Downtown Mid-Century Modern

Should the City Convey the Soldiers’ Memorial to the National Park Service?

by Michael R. Allen

The Soldiers’ Memorial was completed in 1938 as the centerpiece of Memorial Plaza, a municipal landscape devoted to St. Louisans who sacrificed their lives in World War I. Designed by Mauran, Russell & Crowell with Preston J. Bradshaw, the building offers an angular, modernist reduction of a classical Greek temple form. This building and its military museum anchor a historic civic landscape, but public awareness and financial stability have been elusive in recent years.

Now the National Park Service is studying acquiring the Soldiers’ Memorial, which the City of St. Louis has owned since construction. Should the city convey a public building long maintained by local taxpayers to the federal government? Will the National Park Service be able to increase attendance and improve the curatorial practices of the museum? These questions are now on the table.

Thursday, members of the public will have the chance to offer comments on the National Park Service study of acquisition and management of the Soldiers’ Memorial. The following is taken from an announcement posted this week by Ruth Heikkinen, Project Manager, Soldiers’ Memorial Military Museum Special Resource Study:

The National Park Service was directed by Congress in Public Law 110-229 to evaluate the Soldiers’ Memorial as a potential unit of the national park system. For a site to be recommended as a potential new park unit, it must meet the criteria for national significance, be a suitable and feasible addition to the park system, and NPS must be found to be the best option for management. Studies that evaluate these criteria are called special resource studies (SRS).

Public input is an important part the of the SRS process, and we invite your attendance at our public meeting at the Memorial on March 15th from 5-6:30pm (see Meeting Notices at left for more details). We also invite your comments on the Draft SRS (to be posted by March 14th, 2012 …).

Read more here.

4 replies on “Should the City Convey the Soldiers’ Memorial to the National Park Service?”

The NPS is probably one of the most capable and competent departments in the US government. (The military? Pffft! That entity is mostly controlled by the “defense” contractors now). I think that this is a capital idea. The only caveat I would have is that due to the giant sucking sound that is the military, and its alleged needs, and the refusal of the National Party to raise taxes on the parasite class (wealthy), the NPS is down about 8 BillionUSD in its needs for infrastructure improvements, in addition to needing full funding for National Parks. The reason it now costs money to enter many National Parks is directly due to this underfunded state.

Having said that, damn the torpedoes, and full speed ahead.

The City is and always be responsible for Soldiers Memorial. It was built to honor those who were lost in World War One. It has been neglected, abused, items stolen, and it is not even a thought to those who fill the Plaza at various festivals. One of the reasons St. Louis is a failed City is that it  made its civic center a ‘dead zone’. The Arch is a big problem but we wont be told how much work is needed until the powers get all the money they want for Arch 2015. But when did they take over the responsibility for Kiener Plaza? That kind of ‘sneaked in’.  No, the City should simply hold a few fund raisers for the Memorial in Kiel Opera House, the first USO. Something honorable.

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