Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Administrative History
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Administrative History
Sharon A. Brown


With the dawning of 1940, old problems still remained to be solved, especially that of the Old Courthouse, which several people feared might burn down at any time. National Park Service officials regretfully informed the St. Louis backers of the Old Courthouse that the Advisory Board had recommended against including it in the memorial. As a result of this recommendation, Secretary of the Interior Ickes withdrew his request for the taking of the building. An amazed William C. D'Arcy stated, "A hundred years from now that property will be more valuable than the Egyptian tombs that people travel miles to see, and which they believe are indicative of past civilization." [1]

"What the snag is nobody seems to precisely know," the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported, and Mayor Dickmann scheduled a trip to Washington, D.C., to find out, for he was determined to have the building in the memorial. Local citizens and Missouri Historical Society members pursued more research on the building's historical significance, hoping to challenge and change the Advisory Board's opinion. Ickes had requested $35,000 for yearly maintenance and $250,000 to $500,000 for repair and rehabilitation of the Old Courthouse, but in early February he withdrew this request. Mayor Dickmann and others could not change Ickes' mind without first changing the board's opinion. [2]

Various other protests and suggestions for saving the building came from St. Louisans and interested Park Service personnel. The St. Louis chapter of the American Institute of Architects wrote Harold Ickes that the building was in "excellent structural condition," with the apparent dilapidation being "superficial." National Park Service Supervisor of Historic Sites Ronald F. Lee thought it would be appropriate for the Missouri Historical Society to occupy space in the building. He further hoped this would make the advisory board consider the subject further, since they were interested in the Missouri Historical Society's collection. An arrangement could be worked out by a cooperative agreement under the Historic Sites Act. [3]

John Nagle happily received this suggestion — in fact he had already tried to arrange this with the society. Nagle had also thought of having the city make an annual appropriation toward the building's upkeep so that it could be used for civic or cultural affairs. He did not think that the Park Service should bring the matter up for reconsideration, but that the city should accept primary responsibility. "Anything further we could do would be a re-statement of our previous arguments and would not be nearly so efficacious as the intelligent and convincing arguments that can be marshaled and ought to be advanced by St. Louisans." [4] St. Louisans prepared a new justification with historical evidence gathered by members and staff of the Missouri Historical Society, the St. Louis Public Library, and Saint Louis University. [5]

Their evidence centered on the part the Old Courthouse had played in westward expansion. Numerous meetings and conventions held there espoused plans for transcontinental railways, with Senator Thomas Hart Benton and Senator Stephen A. Douglas being the main spokesmen. Another historical aspect emphasized the building's role in the Mexican War, as both a recruiting station and the scene of homecoming celebrations. [6] The acting president of the Missouri Historical Society wrote Harold Ickes that exclusion of the "monumental edifice" from the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial would make the project "alien and remote." He pointed out that while Thomas Jefferson had the vision to acquire the territory, great numbers of other people had carried out his vision. "What they did, how they built, and what those things meant to them, is inseparable from, and a most important part of the story of the Old Court House." [7] McCune Gill believed that if the building were to be rehabilitated for the society to use, the Park Service would be utilizing the riverfront in an "authentic and dignified manner" and would be carrying out the purpose of the Historic Sites Act. [8] Luther Ely Smith wanted to keep a general approach, preferably oral, avoiding details as much as possible to avoid the direct issue. He tried to obviate the danger of an immediate negative, leaving the matter open for further intensive work and documentation if it should become necessary. Mayor Dickmann and Edgar Wayman left for Washington D.C., and Smith and his backers crossed their fingers, touched wood, and hoped for good results from there. [9]

On February 14 the Globe-Democrat stated that the block bounded by Market, Chestnut, and Fourth Streets, acquired by the National Park Service to connect the main memorial to the Old Courthouse, was one of the most expensive blocks in the area. The declaration of taking cost $287,290 in spite of almost a fourth of the block already belonging to the United States because of a purchase of one corner in 1917 for a proposed Federal building. The total cost of the block destined to become Luther Ely Smith Square was $468,000. The newspaper stressed that the block was acquired only for the purpose of extending the memorial area to include the Old Courthouse. [10]

Upon Mayor Dickmann's return to the city the plan to include the Old Courthouse in the memorial gained strength. The structure was specifically mentioned in President Roosevelt's executive order, and Dickmann and Wayman had made this point in a conference with National Park Service Director Arno Cammerer, and Associate Director Arthur Demaray. According to Demaray, Secretary Ickes asked the National Park Service to look into the matter, although it was not known what action would be taken. In Demaray's opinion, Roosevelt's mention of the building had escaped the notice of the Park Service and Interior Department, but had been unearthed by Dickmann because "he was more interested in the project than anyone else." Luther Ely Smith discovered confidentially that because of this development the Park Service and the Interior Department would be inclined to revise their points of view, and that no further data were needed to convince them. [11]

Ickes responded to the question by writing President Roosevelt in March, telling him of the city's offer of title and the problem involved. Unless Roosevelt disapproved, Ickes proposed to accept the site as conveyed to the Federal Government without cost. Funds for restoration would be available from the city's $2,225,000 contribution. Ickes thought revenues obtained from charging admission fees to the restored courthouse could balance part of the annual maintenance cost. While he was awaiting Roosevelt's reply, the Missouri Historical Society offered to supply historical material for exhibition in the Old Courthouse. [12] On April 29, 1940, President Roosevelt approved Secretary Ickes' action to take title to the Old Courthouse along with the land upon which it stood. He did so because the original plans had sought this acquisition for the memorial, and all obstacles preventing its conveyance to the United States had been removed. [13] Roosevelt thus overruled the Advisory Board, upon Ickes' recommendation, and the historic Old Courthouse that "morally and physically" dominated Jefferson National Expansion Memorial became a part of it. [14]

In June the acting undersecretary of the interior requested that Mayor Dickmann furnish an abstract or certificate of title as evidence to the attorney general, for his examination and opinion. The Interior Department was not questioning the validity of the city's title to the property, but nevertheless needed satisfactory evidence of the title. By July 9 the deed and abstract of title covering the site was sent to the Interior Department and referred to the attorney general. [15] Park Service officials in St. Louis agreed upon a program of development for the area, and on June 18 decided that the Old Courthouse project should take priority over other development work. They listed specific rehabilitation projects needing immediate attention. Several tenants remained in the building (even though the courts had long since been moved) and Charles Peterson thought it would be politically wise for the city to evacuate them, since it had arranged for the use of the building by the Federal Government. In this way no bad feelings would develop toward the Park Service on the part of city organizations. Peterson also warned about the fire hazard in the building, and upon examining the rooms found many of them almost impossible to inspect because of the tenants' belongings packed in them. [16]

Near the end of July the United States attorney general examined the Old Courthouse title and raised several questions. The deed that the title rested on was unrecorded, and furthermore appeared to be subject to the rights and claims of any parties in possession of it under any unrecorded permissive agreement granted by the city. To eliminate the first objection, the Park Service asked Mayor Dickmann to have the deed recorded and the abstract of title continued and recertified to a date subsequent to such recording. To answer the second objection, the Park Service enclosed for Nagle a form of certificate of possession, to be executed by the local United States attorney and returned to the Service. [17] Harry Blanton took care of these matters, had the certificate of possession drawn up, and asserted that it was the city of St. Louis that occupied the building through the tenancy of two justice of the peace courts and their constable offices. As for other parties occupying the building, he reported that they were tenants only, with no leases, who had been given notice to vacate. Blanton thus answered the attorney general's questions about the title's complete legality. [18]

At long last all the barriers were removed, and the Federal Government could take possession after the tenants had left. Smith wrote Dickmann, "That certainly is a mighty fine triumph, and it is a great tribute to your persistence and vision." By November workmen began moving piles of trash from the building, and the National Park Service approved plans and specifications for the restoration. [19] In December bids were opened to put a new roof on all four wings of the building. [20]

During the summer of 1940 a possibility existed that the headquarters of Region II of the National Park Service would be transferred from Omaha, Nebraska, to St. Louis. National Park Service Director Cammerer was not averse to the idea if there existed a definite desire on the city's part to welcome the move. Space was available in the rooms of the Old Courthouse, provided it could be restored and ready for use by July 1, 1941. Restoration was being done with Works Progress Administration funds, but it soon became apparent to National Park Service Executive Officer Daniel Cox Fahey, Jr., that it would not be finished by July. Because construction of the new roof was contract work being performed by union labor, no WPA rehabilitation work could start until after the roof work was completed. Furthermore, new defense projects being set up in the St. Louis area threatened to create a shortage of WPA skilled labor. Fahey considered having the work done under contract to rush completion, but this would seriously deplete funds available for the other WPA projects. In Fahey's estimation it would not be possible to use both contract and WPA labor at the same time on the building. [21]

Transfer plans were still tentative at the end of the year, when the regional director of Region II made a trip to St. Louis to investigate the move's feasibility. He personally wanted to move to Denver, but this created legal problems, as the Park Service owned no property in that city. Adequate space existed in the Old Courthouse, but other basic necessities were lacking, such as a garage for car storage and maintenance. Heating, lighting, janitor service, and trash removal required funding, and at this point, Park Service officials did not know where funds for these activities would come from. Doubt still existed whether the restoration would be finished in time. [22] As a result of the intricacies and the time table of the rehabilitation work, the Old Courthouse did not open to the public until January 1943. It then housed a "temporary" museum and the National Park Service St. Louis offices. Regional headquarters did not move to St. Louis.

Preservation Efforts

In all the reports recommending sites to be preserved, the Old Cathedral had been mentioned as worthy. Built in 1831 to 1834, the structure was a prime example of Greek Revival architecture, and was on ground set aside by St. Louis founder Pierre Laclede. Through the years, nonhistoric structures had been built on and around it, and now, 100 years after its construction, the Old Cathedral sat surrounded by warehouses in the decaying riverfront district. In December 1940 Mayor Dickmann and others asked questions about the relationship between the cathedral, the red brick priest's house, and the rest of the memorial development program. City officials asked if the Park Service could assist the Catholic Church in rebuilding the priest's house out of structural materials more harmonious and adaptable to the general surroundings. [23] Secretary Ickes in principle opposed spending public funds on private property, but was willing to have the Park Service look into the matter because of the proximity of the structure to the memorial. Any work done by the Park Service would be authorized by the Historic Sites Act if an agreement could be reached where the Catholic Church would preserve the historic property unchanged. [24]

Concurrent with interest in the Old Cathedral, several members of the community sought to save the National-Scotts Hotel, at Third and Market Streets. Luther Ely Smith asked John Nagle if the Advisory Board had reviewed the hotel's historical value, thinking this advisable before his group took any action. "If we are to judge from our experience with the Court House, we might encounter some risk of offending them, which of course is one thing we do not want to do by taking action first." [25] John Nagle received several endorsements for including the building within the park, and communicated with the Washington office in the matter. He appreciated Smith's interest and thought every consideration should be given the building, threatened after ninety-three years of use. Members of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association previously were interested in saving the hotel, but in view of the pending legislation they did not want to make a move necessitating an additional executive order. [26]

Historical research on buildings in the area continued, along with the various museum studies in 1940. National Park Service historians and researchers continued to define museum themes, and restoration and preservation specifications. Suggestions were made to try and settle public discontent over the destruction of so many buildings. Perhaps grading, covering with subsoil and topsoil, and planting each block with grass as the buildings were demolished could solve the problem. Also considered was a plan that entailed building a fountain on the mall running east from the Old Courthouse. It was felt that improving the appearance of the demolished blocks would help improve public appreciation of what was being done. [27]

Concern over preservation of buildings and facades occupied a great deal of space in these studies. One suggestion was to place some of the worthy facades close to or fastened to the walls of the Eads Bridge approach. One advisor thought the facades could be left in place, right on the street, rather then be dismantled and stored. One aspect kept in mind when this planning was undertaken was that there was no authority in the Historic Sites Act to construct new buildings or to reconstruct old buildings, except when appropriations were authorized or made available by Congress. [28]

Lapsed Funds

Another consideration that followed the project into 1940 was the lapsing of the Federal funds. On July 10 the Post-Dispatch reported that $417,657 had lapsed into the Federal Treasury (This information had just become publicly known, even though the event had occurred the previous year). The newspaper reported that the funds could be obtained now only by congressional appropriation. Funds contributed by the city of St. Louis were not affected and were therefore available to the Park Service with the exception of $140,000 set aside as a reserve fund. This fund had been the city's one-third of the reverted money, and having been paid to the Federal Government, was not likely to be given back to the city. [29] St. Louis' Budget Director Arthur C. Meyers, however, did not accept this status of the city's contribution. Meyers wrote Arno Cammerer in July that he wanted a refund of the city's balance so that it could be placed in the Jefferson Memorial Bond Sinking Fund. Cammerer then requested Superintendent John Nagle to discuss the matter with Meyers, since "It is believed a more satisfactory solution of the problem may be reached in this manner." Meyers insisted that $139,219.19 of the city's funds should revert to the city treasury because the unused portion of the Federal funds had already reverted to the Federal Treasury. He asked John Nagle to take whatever action was necessary to move the money. [30] John Nagle tried to explain the National Park Service's position to Meyers and Comptroller Louis Nolte. In the opinion of the Park Service, the refund should not occur unless and until it became definite that no further action would be taken to make additional funds available for the memorial. Nagle promised Meyers and Nolte official consideration of the matter upon their request. Nagle then suggested to the director of the Park Service that the question of the fund should not be made until a definite decision was made regarding further Federal action requesting additional funds. Nagle also duly passed this viewpoint on to Arthur Meyers. [31]

National Park Service Chief Counsel G.A. Moskey considered the matter and believed the Interior Department had to decide whether any additional steps should be taken to secure a reappropriation of the lapsed funds. This seemed a doubtful move in view of Congress' unfavorable budget action within the last year. National Park Service officials in St. Louis finally decided in August to recommend to Washington that necessary steps be taken to secure an additional appropriation of Federal funds to match St. Louis' appropriation three to one, or else secure an extension of the availability of the lapsed Federal funds. [32]

In October National Park Service Acting Director Hillory Tolson stepped into the confusion to set a course of action, working cooperatively with the city. The first step needed was a written statement from the mayor agreeing to match Federal WPA funds expended on the project in the future. The $140,000 would be returned to the city if not matched by Federal funds. If the mayor should consider that funds would not be available to match WPA funds on the three to one ratio, the National Park Service would not be willing to recommend that a WPA project be undertaken. It was the Park Service's understanding that the city had agreed to contribute as much as $7,500,000 towards a $30,000,000 project. If the Park Service was able to secure allotments of WPA funds over and above the $140,000, it was assumed that the city would continue to match these allocations. Tolson requested early advice along with a written statement from the mayor, so that recommendations concerning the WPA projects could be submitted. [33]

John Nagle informed Mayor Dickmann of these developments. He asked if the city of St. Louis would use the $139,219 toward a grant from the WPA to the total sum of $417,657.56, and if the city would contribute further funds toward WPA projects in the three to one ratio. [34] The Board of Estimate and Apportionment on October 17 considered these questions. The board had no objection to the Park Service using the remaining $139,219.19, provided the money was matched by a Federal contribution of $417,657.56. On the second question, the board members agreed that the city would be authorized and willing to contribute more money in the same ratio. To raise any more city money, however, more city bonds would have to be sold; and to make the bonds attractive to buyers, at least $500,000 should be offered for sale. Yet the board did not want to sell bonds and pay interest on them when the money derived from their sale was idle. The city would be willing to raise the necessary money only with Nagle's guarantee that the projects instituted would need at least $500,000 of the city's money in addition to WPA money. [35]

Informing Director Cammerer of the city's decision, John Nagle believed that a satisfactory solution of the problem could be reached. He felt that city officials were justified in their desire to realize the most advantageous sale of bonds. Possibilities did exist that WPA aid in either smaller amounts or on a larger scale would be more advantageous both to the National Park Service and to the city of St. Louis. [36] In this spirit of cooperation, both parties attempted to watch their own interests while working toward building the memorial.

Railroad Negotiations

National Park Service officials tried to foster the same spirit of cooperation between the city and the Terminal Railroad Association over the question of track removal, although the Park Service itself could not participate officially. Its function was to approve or disapprove solutions advanced by the city and the TRRA "from the viewpoint of the ultimate project."

John Nagle could not agree to any schemes proposed for sharing costs, as this meant agreeing in principle to Government participation. As a result, in all negotiations he refrained from agreeing to any cost division, although he personally believed the Government should bear a proportionate share of the cost. [37] Early in 1940 Park Service Executive Officer Daniel Cox Fahey, Jr., restated the position that the ideal solution to the problem was to have no railroad tracks at all separating the Mississippi River from the memorial area. At this point in the negotiations, Park Service officials in St. Louis took the position that the passenger trains should be removed as a first step, to be followed by relocation of the freight surface lines. Fahey believed that if this position became policy it would aid in solving the whole problem. It was known that the Interior Department's special advisor, Frank Wright, wanted to recommend to the secretary of the interior that the government give financial assistance, but it was not known to what extent. Wright had never stated specifically that any of the alternative plans should be carried out. He worked to bring together the city, the railroads and the National Park Service rather than as an advisor to the Park Service. [38]

On February 14, 1940, John Nagle met with Frank Wright in Washington to discuss the various agreements and understandings worked out thus far between the city and the TRRA. Several of the railroads were starting to send their passenger trains over the just-opened Municipal Bridge, while others were still using the Merchants Bridge and the elevated tracks. Wright proposed building a double track passenger line that would serve to route traffic over the Municipal Bridge. Nagle told him that the plan recently submitted by TRRA President Watson, which provided for two low level tracks over which passenger trains as well as freight trains would pass in front of the area, was not acceptable to the National Park Service. Nagle also told Wright that the Park Service would keep a stronger position by not assuming the role of deciding what routes the trains would take. Any attempt on the Park Service's part to dictate these routes would not be acceptable to the city or the TRRA. It was up to the railroads to study the problem on a city-wide basis, and as far as Nagle was concerned neither the railroads nor the city had made any satisfactory broad study of the problem. He again stressed that if attention was focused first on eliminating the elevated passenger trains, some means could then be found to remove the freight trains. If the argument kept dividing between the passenger and freight trains, then nothing would be accomplished. [39]

Terminal Railroad Association President Philip Watson's plan, submitted to Nagle on January 18, did not contain a lot of detail, but it did call for a new line to be substituted for the elevated structure. This plan, forwarded to Director Cammerer along with Nagle's objections, was then sent to the secretary of the interior. Cammerer pointed out that the double track passenger and freight line placed along the front of the area would separate the memorial from the river. A harmful precedent would be set for all future planning work aimed at reclaiming the historic and recreational values of the waterfront areas. Cammerer recommended to the secretary that the plan not be approved, and that Frank Wright and John Nagle devise another plan in which an adequate city-wide study of the railroad problem in relation to the memorial would be performed. Harold Ickes approved these recommendations on March 21, 1940. [40]

Tensions now began to build. Mayor Dickmann requested that Frank Wright come to St. Louis for a "showdown" on removing the elevated structure. The two met with Philip Watson on April 11, but nothing was accomplished. Mayor Dickmann met again on April 12 with TRRA officials, insisting that the tracks be moved. Since Watson represented many different railroads, he suggested that some of their officials be called into a conference. Dickmann thought these gentlemen should be reminded of the desirability of their cooperating with the Federal Government to build the memorial. For fifty years they had sustained tremendous savings in their operations as members of a terminal system, as compared with the potential costs if they had operated their lines individually. Dickmann stressed that it was necessary for the railroads to cooperate with the city and the Federal Government in developing the memorial, even though their costs would be higher. [41]

The city Board of Estimate and Apportionment had not yet taken action on the provisional agreement entered into with the TRRA on February 1. Dickmann's anger over the TRRA's opposition to a smoke elimination ordinance led him to declare that he would reconsider all the agreement's terms. [42]

In June, both Philip Watson, Jr., and Mayor Dickmann received notice from Secretary Ickes that the TRRA's January 18 plan was unacceptable, and that both were requested to submit a new plan. [43] Watson promptly corresponded with the directors of his association, citing the fact that in the past twelve months more than 500,000 railroad cars (passenger and freight) had traveled across the Merchants Bridge and St. Louis Transfer Railway lines. In Watson's opinion these railroad facilities were essential to railroad traffic through St. Louis. Focusing on national and international events and the increasing possibility of war, Watson made the following observation to his directors:

It is, to my mind, incredible and unthinkable that, at this time when there appears to be good reason to believe that the railroads will soon be called upon to furnish additional, speedy, and efficient transportation of both freight and passenger requirements to meet the emergency growing out of the national defense program, anyone would give consideration to the removal and destruction of such important rail facilities as these tracks along the riverfront provide, certainly not unless as good or better ones are provided in their place. [44]

Another meeting was held July 2 in Mayor Dickmann's office to consider Secretary Ickes' request for a new plan. John Nagle stated the National Park Service's chief concerns: that all trains discontinue use of the elevated structure, that the structure be removed, and that the Park Service was not interested in the details of how this was to be accomplished by the TRRA and the city. Any studies pursued toward this goal would have the financial aid of the Park Service. Philip Watson, Jr., remarked that the Government should not ask the TRRA to pay for the necessary changes, to which Nagle replied it was useless to insist upon any definite plan for dividing costs before any study was done on the benefits and disadvantages brought upon each party and the total cost determined. Mayor Dickmann then requested that a committee of engineers be formed, one each appointed by the city, the TRRA, and the Park Service, to make studies toward this end. Nothing further could be done until meetings of the city board of estimate and the TRRA board of directors were held. Nagle was to be notified of the results of these meetings. [45]

The matter moved in a different direction than John Nagle or Frank Wright had anticipated. They had previously considered bringing in an engineer on the problem, but now they delayed until the situation was a little better defined. Watson's attitude did not please John Nagle, who thought Watson was "inclined to drag 'red herrings' across our trail." Nagle further believed that Watson complicated the discussions by making "gratuitous and unnecessary arguments." [46]

After the July 2 meeting the TRRA and the city both appointed engineers to study and report on technical and physical problems involved with removing the tracks. John Nagle held conferences with his superiors, who decided that the Park Service should not be represented on this committee. Their reasoning was that the objectives of the Park Service in requesting that the structure be removed were fully recognized by everyone, and train rerouting would be done over tracks on lands not owned by the Park Service, thereby eliminating any need for the Park Service to be consulted in any phase of this work. It was up to the city and the TRRA to arrive at a solution. Thus, National Park Service officials felt they could not participate in the engineer committee. [47]

The St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment acted on July 25 to revoke the TRRA's permits for operating the tracks. The city's appointed engineer, City Railway Engineer A.R. Ross, was to collaborate with the TRRA's engineer, F.E. Bates of the Missouri Pacific, to determine some plan to get trains into Union Station without using the elevated tracks. This action by the board was deemed necessary in view of Secretary Ickes' rejection of the TRRA's plan and the National Park Service's decision not to hire a consulting engineer. [48] Several months passed before Ross and Bates evolved a plan for consideration. In late September John Nagle visited the two engineers and learned they had prepared a plan for carrying both passenger and freight trains through a tunnel across the area. In Nagle's judgment this represented the most feasible solution presented so far. He suggested that they pursue their studies further and prepare cost estimates. Nagle would wait to hear from the city and the TRRA before hiring Max Doyne as Frank Wright's consultant assistant. [49]

Plans progressed for the proposed railroad changes as survey data were secured along the elevated tracks. Neighboring streets and the memorial area were surveyed at the same time. Max Doyne selected four men to perform the investigations and studies, men trained in railroad terminal studies and construction problems. These plans had to be completed before the Park Service officials in St. Louis could do anything. In November came a discussion of ventilating the proposed tunnel, with various solutions being offered. Daniel Cox Fahey, Jr., noted that the question of ventilating outlets would require careful consideration because diesel-driven engines were "notorious for being horribly smelly." [50]

During these months Frank Wright and Mayor Dickmann asked Park Service officials various questions ranging from whether the studies had been approved as they now stood, to how far the Park Service would go in defraying costs. Executive Officer Fahey's personal belief was that the Park Service could do little except to confirm that the plan now under consideration served to remove the surface and elevated tracks, and that the tunnel location did not interfere with any foreseeable development of the memorial project. He stressed that the National Park Service should keep the position of being neither railroad experts nor city planners. All they wanted was the removal of the tracks, and it was not within their authority to say how this should be done. [51]

Secretary Ickes met with National Park Service Acting Director Arthur E. Demaray, Mayor Dickmann and other city officials in December concerning the new tunnel plan. When Mayor Dickmann demonstrated that this plan could be worked out and the costs divided, Secretary Ickes said there were no funds available to the National Park Service and he doubted whether any more would be appropriated by Congress. Dickmann proposed obtaining a WPA project for part of the park, stating that the cost might be as high as $3,000,000. Since Max Doyne had just been appointed to make a study, Demaray believed no action should be taken until Doyne's findings were available, and Secretary Ickes agreed. [52] Negotiations came to a standstill until further studies were completed.

Thus another year of development came to an end, with buildings being torn down, local politics becoming inflamed over the railroad issue, and National Park Service studies continuing. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial gained a new superintendent near the end of the year; Julian Spotts, who had served as advisor for the project, ascended to the top position on November 16, 1940, as John Nagle resigned to accept a position with the War Department. Nagle took charge of developing air bases leased from Great Britain in the Caribbean Islands, a prelude to the entry of the United States in World War II. A major personnel change also occurred in the National Park Service hierarchy when Arno Cammerer stepped down after seven years as director, to be succeeded by Newton Drury on August 20. [53]

Demolition Continues

Changes in personnel did not shift the principal goals in the memorial's development. Park Service officials kept the demolition program on schedule. Despite opposition in some quarters, all buildings on the riverfront came down, with the exceptions of the Old Cathedral, the Old Rock House and the Denchar Warehouse (which temporarily served as shelter for the salvaged facades and iron work). Interested citizens made last minute efforts to save two structures: the National-Scotts Hotel at Third and Market Streets, adjacent to the memorial area, and the Old Customs House at Third and Olive Streets. National Park Service Historical Architect John Bryan documented the historical and architectural significance of the National-Scotts Hotel, and the Missouri Historical Society adopted a resolution favoring its acquisition. Superintendent Julian Spotts recommended changing the memorial's boundaries to keep the building, yet after the Park Service studied all the data and recommendations about the hotel, the decision was made not to include the structure in the memorial. The hotel's history was interesting, but its structure had been considerably altered through the years. Funds for extensive restoration and rehabilitation were not available, and even if restored, the hotel was unadaptable to museum or administrative use. As for the suggestion that the hotel be utilized in its original function, the Park Service definitely could not justify engaging in the hotel business. So it was not included within the memorial, but all of the Service's files, historical data, and reports on the building were made available to local groups or individuals who wanted to undertake restoration. [54]

Also destined for demolition was the Old Customs House, built between 1852 and 1859. It was used as a post office, a customs office, and a home for Federal courts, and served as the center of Government activities in St. Louis through the Civil War period. Only in 1888 did it lose its prominence to the larger Post Office Building at Eighth and Olive Streets. One of the first protests against razing this building came in 1938 when Postmaster W. Rufus Jackson made his opposition public. But the determining factor against saving the building evolved from its location on Third Street (now Memorial Drive). In 1940 John Nagle became convinced that the building could not remain permanently, as it would prevent the improvement of Third Street, which was needed for the area's future development. In Nagle's estimation, widening the street was more essential than saving the Old Customs House. [55]

As soon as demolition of the Customs House began in January 1941, Director Newton Drury explained why the building was being demolished in an attempt to answer the growing public sentiment to save it. A thorough study by National Park Service architects and historians had concluded that the building was not of sufficient national architectural significance to justify the high cost (estimated at $450,000) of restoration. Traffic safety would be impaired if the building were left standing to interfere with the widening of Third Street. Nonetheless, while making architectural and historical records, the Park Service determined that selected columns, column caps, and cast iron ornaments would be saved from the building. [56]

The cast iron architecture on the St. Louis riverfront was considered by architectural experts to be unique. Nowhere else in the country had a similar large cluster of buildings of cast iron architecture been preserved. As demolition continued through 1941 and 1942, various ornaments, architectural details, and metal columns selected for preservation were taken down by the wreckers and stored in the Denchar Warehouse. Charles Peterson and John Bryan marked each specimen, believing they would eventually be displayed in the proposed architectural museum. During the war years, drives for scrap metal occurred frequently. In the interest of national security, Julian Spotts had to maintain the position that these preserved pieces would be available as scrap if the military situation demanded. Fortunately, this never came to pass. [57]

Besides preserving selected architectural pieces, National Park Service officials chose to keep the Old Rock House at Wharf and Chestnut Streets. This building was the oldest standing structure in the city, having been built in 1818 by the fur trader Manuel Lisa for use as a warehouse. Starting in 1936 Charles Peterson and his staff gathered information on the building, which by that time housed a tavern. Enough historical data was collected about the structure to justify its restoration by the Works Progress Administration. Peterson believed that the "proportion of known fact and reasonable deduction to conjecture" in terms of restoring the building was no lower than any other "average" National Park Service restoration project. Using WPA labor and funds, National Park Service architects started in January 1941 to restore the Old Rock House. They removed all nonhistoric additions (particularly a mansard roof added late in the previous century), and did an exterior and interior restoration with some original flooring and floor joists remaining in place. The work was finished in just over a year. [58]

For the next seventeen years the restored Old Rock House stood as the only completed development in the memorial area. Overshadowed physically by the elevated railroad, it nevertheless served, along with the Old Courthouse several blocks away, as an interpretive feature within the memorial. The only other development to occur on site for the next seventeen years was a conversion of a portion of the razed area into a municipal parking lot. Park Service officials restored the Old Rock House with the idea that it would comprise a portion of the "ultimate" memorial development, even though they still had no concept of what form this development would take. [59] The Old Rock House, however, did not remain as part of the memorial plan because of the overshadowing elevated tracks.

Works Progress Administration money paid for more than the Old Rock House restoration, as the Old Courthouse rehabilitation proceeded throughout 1941. After the new roof was in place, work began on the interior. The building's exterior design had changed very little over the years, but the interior had experienced almost continual remodeling. Only the rotunda, the two oval courtrooms on the second floor, the corridors, and the stairways had not undergone modernization. Thus, rooms already stripped of their old character were converted into office space; only the two largest courtrooms on the second floor were worthy architecturally and aesthetically of preservation. [60] By December 1941 rehabilitated rooms in the south wing housed the National Park Service offices of Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

During the summer of 1941 the Works Progress Administration granted $76,852 to the memorial for the preparation of museum exhibits. Work commenced in September with four workmen, but by January 1942 only 2 percent of the project was completed. By this time, completion of other WPA projects had moved forward; the Old Rock House restoration was 95 percent complete, and grading and general improvement of the memorial area was 60 percent complete. Because of war conditions no work had started on the other WPA projects, including partial restoration of the Old Courthouse, construction facilities within the memorial area, and the Third Street improvement. Julian Spotts hoped to apply for a project to complete restoration of the Old Courthouse after the partial restoration project was finished. [61]

Museum exhibit work continued to progress slowly, suffering further delays when Julian Spotts received unofficial information that the Missouri WPA Art Project, upon which the Park Service depended for much of the installation work, would be required to work on military and civilian defense needs. Spotts could only hope that WPA assistance would not cease before some of the most pressing work could be completed. By June, however, the WPA drastically cut the number of their assigned workers. Spotts learned that certain specific jobs could be finished, but that the complete restoration work was in jeopardy. The entire Third Street project fell by the wayside. Later, it would be officially approved as part of the Strategic Highway Network, thus gaining a higher priority. [62]

Works Progress Administration assistance on the exhibits continued to the point where St. Louisans saw a preview of an exhibit room in the Old Courthouse in October 1942. Association member William D'Arcy described it, saying that "There is nothing like it in the United States and it will grow to bigger proportions and be increasingly more interesting to the public." [63] Works Progress Administration activities terminated on January 3, 1943, when the museum rooms opened to the public. [64]

Demolition work progressed throughout 1941 and 1942, leading to other questions needing answers. As some bulldozers moved through the area tearing down buildings, others worked to grade and level the old basements. Debris filled up the holes and the site was leveled off. Memorial staff members made arrangements with owners of unexcavated borrow pits to obtain clean earth. Lespedeza seed, a clover-like ground cover, was planted over the graded area to prevent erosion and improve the area's appearance. All the old streets remained intact, however, which created differences between St. Louis authorities and the National Park Service beginning in February 1941. These differences centered on claims to vested rights in the streets and alleys made by the utility companies, which owned equipment beneath the street surfaces. City authorities wanted the Park Service to save the city from any costs, claims, or suits by the utility companies resulting from the city's passage of ordinances vacating the streets and alleys. Luther Ely Smith believed that because everyone concerned wanted the projects to progress there would be no serious problem in resolving the differences. [65] Smith's opinion changed several days later when local papers alleged that the dispute was snarling the memorial plans. Prompt action was necessary to keep the cooperative working agreement between the city and the Park Service. [66]

Federal officials wanted the city to unconditionally vacate the streets and alleys at once. Thereafter the Federal Government would take care of all claims that the utilities could legally establish. Department of Justice officials believed that the act of vacating sheds would terminate many of the rights that the utilities might claim. Foremost in the Government's mind was conserving its funds. [67] Time was of the essence as Park Service officials had several hundred thousand dollars of WPA money to spend before July 1, 1941. Some of this work centered on obliterating and grading the streets. When declarations of taking were filed on the property, they provided that the land taken was subject to the rights of the public utilities using the streets, and subject to the rights of the city. Owners of abutting property caused a problem, since their property extended to the middle of the vacated streets. The owners had the legal right to order the utility companies to remove utility facilities from their land. If the utilities removed their facilities, they had the right for compensation against the city for the cost of this removal, based upon the precept that the city's contract was breached. It would prove a major obstacle if the Government had to pay for these costs. City Counselor Edgar Wayman prepared an ordinance providing for vacating the streets, but he did not solve this problem. For the Park Service, the solution lay with an unconditional vacation so that the United States would not have to reimburse the utilities. Wayman could not recommend this because the city would be open to a damage suit by the utilities. Park Service Acting Chief Counsel Lee recommended seeking a decision from the solicitor general. [68]

More than a month passed before the solicitor general was in a position to render an opinion. Director Drury recommended to Counselor Wayman that the city vacate the streets unconditionally in order to start the project immediately. If this seemed unsatisfactory to the city, the Park Service would try to enter into a contract with the utilities or condemn city streets, but this required additional time. Because the city did not desire to vacate unconditionally, the Park Service had no other course open except to hold up the project until title to the streets was cleared and the utility problem solved. [69]

On March 4, 1941, the St. Louis Board of Public Service approved Ordinance 42059, providing for the vacation and abolition of alleys within the memorial's historic site. The ordinance stated that Julian Spotts, on behalf of the United States of America, had waived all claims for damages occasioned by the vacation of the streets and alleys. [70] Federal officials evidently won this disagreement, even though it clearly involved city politics. Mayor Bernard Dickmann had just suffered political defeat in St. Louis' mayoral election as he sought a third term. This election influenced the ordinance's passage, in that Mayor Dickmann exerted political pressure over several of the bitter, defeated aldermen. They were willing to leave the whole problem for the next administration, but Mayor Dickmann made a "very vigorous and eloquent appeal" for a rise above partisanship. As a result, the aldermen followed Mayor Dickmann's wishes. [71]

Another issue in which city leaders staked an interest was the Park Service's plan for parking. In January 1941 a Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association meeting brought all the problems out into the open. Smith believed this issue attracted the largest attendance of any association meeting in years. [72] Director Drury acknowledged that automobile parking would have to be provided for memorial visitors, while warning that it would in his view "tax the ingenuity" of architects to do it satisfactorily. He stressed that they should not make "automobile parking a major dominant function of the area." Drury realized that St. Louis desperately needed additional downtown parking facilities, but a project such as this one, sponsored under the Historic Sites Act, could not be shaped primarily to meet such a need. [73]

Director Drury not only had to answer criticism and inquiries coming from St. Louisans; his agency had to justify expenditures in St. Louis before a House Appropriations subcommittee. Under questioning by Republican members of the subcommittee, Arthur E. Demaray denied that any funds appropriated for the Department of the Interior had been spent on Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Republican opposition repeatedly tried to show that the Interior Department had continued to develop the memorial despite congressional refusal of funds for the project. [74]

On June 12, debate over the Department of the Interior's Appropriation Bill for 1942 involved more testimony on the memorial. An amendment was offered providing that no funds appropriated by the act should be used for the St. Louis project. Critics charged that using WPA funds for this work only thwarted the law, since Congress had not wanted funds spent unless they were sufficient to complete the entire project. Missouri Representative John A. Cochran opposed the amendment, saying that denying the National Park Service the sponsorship of improvement projects through WPA was going too far. House members rejected the amendment 82 to 47. [75]

Controversy over WPA funding did not stop completion of the projects or demolition. Near the end of 1942 the memorial staff successfully negotiated with owners of 448 parcels to sell for a total amount of $5,368,568, or 93 percent of the $5,789,653 awards returned by the court commissioners. Seventeen trials on values had been held by this date, with 17 parcels left needing settlement on value. [76] By 1943 final judgments totaled $5,976,040, with 9 parcels remaining to be settled. The real estate program, involving the acquisition of 484 separate parcels, (of which 482 required purchase), was completed by 1945. [77]

While these court settlements dragged on, Park Service officials allowed utilization of the leveled site in various ways. The city of St. Louis initiated the idea of constructing a parking lot in 1943 for its buses, thereby saving gasoline and rubber during the war years. Temporary paving was placed along the west portions of four blocks extending south from Washington Avenue to Pine Street, providing space for 200 buses. The United States Coast Guard, taking over control of the wharf as part of its wartime functions, used portions of the site for its headquarters. By 1944 they used the ground floor of the Old Rock House for storage and the upper story as a brig for prisoners. Five thousand granite paving blocks, salvaged from the vacated streets, were transferred to the War Department in 1943. By 1945 450,000 more blocks went to several Government agencies. The National Park Service obtained no satisfactory bid prices for mowing plant growth in the area, so the area was burned over. By 1945 the area's unsightly appearance brought unfavorable criticism. [78]

Public reaction toward the memorial's museum program proved gratifying, however. With the opening of the museum in the Old Courthouse, the memorial's staff introduced a weekly "travelogue series." Sunday talks were modified for the summer season, taking into consideration the war situation and gasoline rationing. A special exhibits program began in 1943. Talks and tours given to special groups increased during the war years, the topics being of historical interest, with emphasis on the relation of the area to national expansion. By 1945 the interpretive program consisted of three activities — guided tours of the memorial, Sunday afternoon programs, and off-site programs. The National Park Service presented illustrated talks in the rotunda for the first time, which permitted larger audiences. The year 1943 brought 31,321 visitors, 2,010 of which were in military uniform. [79]

St. Louisans saw physical evidence of progress during these years. Grading, demolition, restoration of the Rock House, rehabilitation of the Old Courthouse, opening of the museum — all served to show the determination of National Park Service officials to make their presence known. Operating only on WPA and city funds, they started to build basic elements of the ultimate memorial. No congressional funds were available for the development, but this was true for all nonessential construction because of the war effort. By the war's end, National Park Service officials began planning for possible postwar development. Before any further construction could begin, however, the first requirement made by Secretary Harold Ickes had to be met: the elevated railroad tracks must be moved.

Further Railroad Negotiations

Negotiations continued through the war years between the city and the railroads, with the Park Service lending assistance from the sidelines. The most promising plan, the tunnel first proposed in 1939, eventually became the solution, but only after twenty years of tension-filled negotiations. During 1941 other plans were considered, but throughout the year the most promise came from the tunnel plan. Charles Peterson believed any tunnel running through the memorial area would be least likely to interfere with future development if it ran close to the levee. It should, of course, avoid the Old Rock House. [80] Engineers Ross and Bates developed two plans for placing the railroad tunnel in the area between the Eads Bridge and Poplar Street (called the First Street Plan, or Commercial Alley Plan) which Consulting Engineer Max Doyne studied, coming to the conclusion that costs for the proposed tunnel construction would be considerably more than the east side track relocation plans. [81] Early in February, Doyne himself developed preliminary reports on rerouting passenger trains through St. Louis over the Municipal Bridge. By April Doyne had prepared cost allocation suggestions for removing the elevated railroad. Cost figures used in the allocations for the two plans, providing for a railroad tunnel, were submitted by the city and the TRRA, while Doyne supplied the estimate for rerouting the trains over the Municipal Bridge. [82] Doyne believed the net cost to be allocated to the National Park Service would be moderate. [83] Julian Spotts continued holding meetings with Mayor Dee Becker concerning the railroad problem. He reminded Becker and Max Doyne of the National Park Service's stand that the low level tracks as well as the elevated trestle would have to be removed before the Park Service would proceed with the final development of the area. Becker and Doyne agreed. Because final plans had not been determined, however, they suggested leaving the low level tracks for future developments. [84]

On July 1, 1941, Mayor Becker held a conference with Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, during which he outlined the plan to eliminate the elevated tracks and suggested that if these efforts proved successful, the remaining low-level tracks could be used temporarily. Ickes did not object to such an agreement as a temporary expedient, although he had not deviated from his decision to require the removal of all tracks from the memorial's east boundary. Another problem was that funds available to the National Park Service could not legally be expended to defray track removal or relocation expenses. Ickes tried to solve this problem by directing Superintendent Spotts to assist Mayor Becker in preparing a WPA project if the city desired to do so. [85]

After another conference in Mayor Becker's office on July 12, Terminal Railroad Association President Philip J. Watson, Jr., stated that his company favored removing the elevated structure if a new double track railroad was constructed on the level surface. His company could not approve rerouting trains on the east side, as this rerouting could not be done without the approval of the individual railroads and the Interstate Commerce Commission. Moreover, TRRA's general counsel expressed practical reasons for the unfeasibility of this scheme. [86]

On September 25, yet another meeting in Mayor Becker's office attracted more than thirty railroad executives and attorneys. The "Doyne Plan," affecting the rerouting of thirty-two passenger trains owned by four railroads, was presented by Mayor Becker and Max Doyne. The mayor of East St. Louis, who was present, agreed with Mayor Becker's plans, hoping that unity between the city administrations would aid in solving the problem. Railroad officials were still not certain that the plan provided the best solution. Mayor Becker asked for written replies from each of the member railroads. Only the vice president of the New York Central System raised questions as to financing the work. [87] At no time did Becker use the city's pending $5,000,000 damage suit against the TRRA as a threat. Former Mayor Dickmann left that suit, based on an allegation of breach of contract, for Becker. The city did not refer to the suit, as it had nothing to do with the elevated problem. Despite the "obstructionism" of the TRRA, Becker believed he was receiving good cooperation from the individual railroads. [88]

Special committees of TRRA officers appointed to study both the west and east side phases of the track problem submitted their reports to Mayor Becker in January 1942. In their estimation, the initial cost of the east side route exceeded $5,000,000, while that of the west side route exceeded $1,500,000. In addition to these initial costs, there would be substantial additional operating expenses, including track rental and longer mileage. The officials stated they wanted to solve the whole problem, yet they believed Mayor Becker would concur that during the period of maximum war effort, it would not be fitting that any work should be started which would result in the diversion of materials from war purposes. They did not want to interfere with the efficiency and free flow of traffic through St. Louis, so they asked Mayor Becker to meet with them after the termination of the war. [89]

At this point Mayor Becker became angry. He wrote Joseph B. Eastman, who was the director of the Office of Defense Transportation as well as the chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission, explaining the situation. Becker asked whether to appeal the controversy to the Office of Defense Transportation or to the Interstate Commerce Commission. Becker wanted the trains diverted over the Municipal Bridge, believing the rerouting should be considered on its own merit, without regard to removing the elevated structure. [90] Max Doyne believed the railroads seized upon the war emergency as an excuse to delay the track solutions, even though such a solution would mean, in Doyne's opinion, improved railroad operations in St. Louis. [91]

Mayor Becker formally charged the TRRA with "obstructionist" tactics on February 15. He, along with Doyne, believed the war emergency excuse was just that — an excuse for doing nothing. The TRRA did not even consider many variables, and its estimate of $5,000,000 for east side development was too high; Becker stated the cost would be only $600,000. Becker believed it regrettable that the company would compel the city to take the matter up with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). To avoid this action, Becker asked the TRRA officials to reroute passenger trains over the Municipal Bridge and to consider removing the trestle, using the wharf temporarily. Becker's position was clear, the city's decision final, with the answer being up to the TRRA. Becker asked only that it be to the point and "without evasion or equivocation." [92]

The Terminal Railroad Association's three-page answer was short and blunt. To interfere with the Merchants elevated line or to reroute trains over already congested tracks would tie up traffic. The TRRA did not ask that the city recede from its position; it sought only a suspension of the project until after the war. Further studies would, however, continue. [93]

Editorial reaction to the impasse was mixed at first. The Star-Times believed the mayor made a brave decision in warning the TRRA he would go to the ICC to stop their obstructionism. The people of St. Louis would not warrant interference with the war effort, but at the same time they did not want community progress halted. The paper placed the blame squarely on the TRRA. The Globe-Democrat adopted a "wait and see" attitude, leaving the Post-Dispatch to say that Becker would be acting with public sympathy if he arraigned the TRRA before the ICC. [94] All three newspapers carried editorials favoring Mayor Becker's efforts. [95] National Park Service officials sat on the sidelines, not involved with the stalemated negotiations, and followed their policy of not caring how the tracks were to be removed as long as they were. Officials nevertheless followed the scenario closely. [96]

Joseph Eastman's reply to Mayor Becker's request came on March 4, 1942. His advisers were not persuaded that there would be any important improvement in the train movement, regarded solely from the standpoint of traffic expedition, if the changes in routing were made. At the same time they could find no reason why taking steps to remove the tracks should be deferred. Eastman sympathized with Becker's desire to reroute the trains, but he did not feel it was a matter justifying his formal interference as director of the Office of Defense Transportation. [97]

Mayor Becker submitted more factual information as evidence for Eastman to consider in an attempt to have him intervene, but he took more substantive action when he publicly announced that the city would now prepare its petition to the ICC for an order directing the TRRA to take down the elevated tracks and to reroute its trains. [98] In addition, the Board of Public Service on April 14 revoked the TRRA's temporary permit to operate on its riverfront tracks. Ever since July 1937, when the franchise right to use these tracks expired, the TRRA had begun operating on the riverfront by virtue of city permit. The TRRA was expected to appeal the order to the ICC, which the city would, in turn, ask to make a decision on the elevated track removal. Both major St. Louis newspapers backed this move. [99] The TRRA declined to comply with the Board of Public Service's order. Their firmly stated position was that no right or power existed in the city of St. Louis to order the removal of the tracks, which were essential to war transportation through St. Louis. None of the carriers would consider taking any step to abandon the tracks. [100]

Mayor Becker went ahead with his plans by corresponding with Joseph Eastman, who sent an associate to St. Louis to gather information. On June 25, 1942, the city of St. Louis filed its suit before the ICC. By July the city of East St. Louis, Illinois, backing the mayor's action, not only petitioned the ICC for leave to intervene in St. Louis' suit, but also filed separate complaints against the TRRA before both the Illinois Commerce Commission and the ICC. [101]

Knowing they would be called upon to supply witnesses and documentation, National Park Service officials prepared their case. The city of St. Louis drafted a "petition for leave to intervene" to be filed by the National Park Service. Superintendent Spotts forwarded the draft to Arthur Demaray for consideration. The Department of the Interior could choose from three different courses: take no action, file a petition for leave to intervene, or address a letter to the ICC stating the department's position without being made a party to the proceeding. In view of the department's desire to move the tracks, the city's endeavor would have to be supported; however, if the Federal Government intervened, it might have to pay a portion of the rerouting costs, thereby getting involved with the railroads' operating problems. Demaray doubted the wisdom of intervening in the proceedings. The most logical course for the Park Service would be to support the city's position by informing the ICC of the Department of the Interior's interest in the successful outcome of the city's action. [102] Thus Harold Ickes on July 31, 1942, wrote Joseph Eastman stating his belief in the feasibility of the "City's plan." He recommended that the ICC give favorable consideration to the problem. [103]

The hearing before the ICC started September 17, 1942, and continued through October 1. Julian Spotts testified on September 22, presenting the Department of the Interior's and the National Park Service's position in the controversy, which was, simply stated, that the memorial would not be developed until the elevated tracks were removed. The ideal situation for the Park Service was the removal of all surface tracks between the memorial and the Mississippi River, even though no final permanent plans for the memorial existed at that time. A decision came in April 1943, but not in the city's favor. An ICC examiner recommended that the city's complaint be dismissed because the ICC did not have the authority to compel the execution of either the rerouting of the east side passenger trains or the west side razing of the elevated structure. Further, evidence submitted at the hearing did not demonstrate that public convenience and necessity required the execution of the city's plan to tear down the elevated. [104]

In an attempt to keep negotiations open on the railroad removal several Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association members and city officials met with Julian Spotts in November 1943. During October they had formed a coordinating committee (Harland Bartholomew, Charles Nagel, Milton Kinsey, Luther Ely Smith, and Louis La Beaume) to study the basic requirements for adequately developing the site, and coordinating the work of the agencies involved. They hoped to solve the track removal, parking, and Third Street problems. Julian Spotts focused attention on the underground tunnel scheme (Bates-Ross plan) previously proposed. Over succeeding months Milton Kinsey researched the tunnel feasibility with TRRA engineers. By May 1944 the committee proposed yet another plan. They suggested connecting the elevated tracks to those in an already existing tunnel under Washington Avenue, leaving the levee surface tracks where they were. City officials actively sought solutions to these problems because of their interest in increasing real estate values in the eastern portion of the downtown district. [105]

Kinsey conferred informally with Watson about the tunnel plan in May, but Watson stated his engineers had already studied this possibility, and doubted its feasibility. He did, however, show Kinsey an alternative solution that he would willingly discuss with the coordinating committee. Watson proposed placing the tracks into a cut along the entire length of Third Street from Washington Avenue to Poplar Street. This plan could be combined with the proposed north-south highway. The railroad right-of-way might be covered for a certain distance and bridged at other places for easy access to the memorial area. Kinsey presented a drawing showing a proposed treatment of the TRRA tracks in conjunction with the Third Street Interregional Highway. The plan contemplated routing all railroad traffic through a tunnel in Third Street along the western boundary of the memorial area. [106]

Quite apart from the plan's virtues or flaws Kinsey was pleased; he believed any public statement made by the TRRA to be a positive occurrence, showing their sincerity. Possibly their desire to maintain good public relations would deter any desire to recant. [107]

Park Service officials participated in the committee deliberations only to the extent of cooperating in good spirit, though of course any plan the committee evolved would have to be approved by the National Park Service director. Spotts' office made no commitments to the group nor did they discuss distribution of costs. The TRRA's plan to put the tracks in a tunnel running along the west side of Third Street seemed a permanent solution. [108]

The TRRA's plan focused attention back upon the work being conducted on the Third Street thoroughfare by the Works Progress Administration. After February 1, 1943, the WPA had ceased to operate any federally sponsored projects, and as a result only grading work had been done on the Third Street project. Remaining work included removing old paving, water mains and other utilities. Subgrading, new paving and drainage needed to be finished. The WPA could not even begin this work. [109]

Association members sought help to complete the project. Asserting that Third Street was a strategic highway and that finishing it would be an aid to defense, Luther Ely Smith and William D'Arcy appealed to both Park Service and other Federal Government officials. The initial response was negative; the work could not be finished because President Roosevelt had halted all WPA projects. Smith even thought of going to the Federal Highway Department or the Public Roads Administration for aid, but it still seemed nothing could be done. So, pending the final development of Third Street, the National Park Service did not oppose the city of St. Louis' use of the widened portion of the street, provided the city supplied all supervision, temporary pavements, and maintenance without cost to the United States. [110]

Not only were memorial backers concerned about losing WPA funds, but they also continued to seek the restoration of lapsed funds. United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission member Amon G. Carter wrote Comptroller General Lindsay Warren in January 1943 concerning the fate of the lapsed funds. Carter believed the money should be returned as a reward for good management in keeping the land costs low. Warren, however, did not possess the power to recall the funds or make them available for expenditure without a specific congressional act. Warren pointed out that WPA money spent for the memorial totaled $959,504, more than twice the amount of the lapsed funds. [111]

The stoppage of WPA projects marked the end of an era in the nation's history. No longer could local and state governments depend upon this type of developmental aid. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial stood at a crossroads, with all of its available funds spent and further development depending entirely upon Congress. Park Service personnel nevertheless turned their attention toward postwar planning, believing that additional funds would eventually become available.

Landing Strip Plans

An immediate problem presented itself in the empty acres on the riverfront. Land sitting empty was symbolic of uselessness. Money could not be made, nor any profits turned. Empty land called for development, structures, and buildings. Several St. Louisans had their own dreams as to how the riverfront land could be utilized; yet the National Park Service could pursue no construction without authorization and appropriation. This situation gave rise to an idea for use of the land in the minds of two prominent St. Louisans.

Major Albert Bond Lambert and Oliver Parks desired to augment the aircraft facilities of St. Louis. Looking at the empty riverfront they saw in their mind's eye a good site for an aircraft landing strip. Lambert inquired about the site's status, only to be told by National Park Service Director Newton Drury that there existed no legal authority for the construction of an aircraft landing strip on any portion of the memorial grounds. The issue did not stop there. Drury expected a formal application for temporary use of the memorial land to be sent to him in the near future. If the issue arose in this way he wanted to have the opportunity to view the conditions and talk with people of diverse viewpoints. This would aid him in making the situation clear to the secretary of the interior. [112]

As Lambert's and Parks' plans evolved, they wanted to use the site temporarily for testing experimental aircraft. These two highly motivated men talked up their ideas and gained support from sections of the city administration, which resulted in dissention among civic leaders. The feeling arose that if the new Mayor, Aloys Kaufmann, sponsored the plan he and his administration would be accused of destroying another's good work. Luther Ely Smith, the association, and the majority of St. Louisans still favored developing a historical monument. The quarrel threatened to divide the city's loyalties. The association adopted a resolution opposing the plan even though they did not question the sincerity of any of its proponents. Even though the strip was to be only temporary, association members feared that it might not ever be removed. Association members were especially angry with Milton Kinsey, president of the Board of Public Service, whom they thought would file the airstrip application without consulting with the coordinating committee. Kinsey denied this, and had every intention of hearing the committee's view before the city took action on the not-yet-completed application. [113]

It took only a word from Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes to halt the accusations, worry, and politics: "The use of a large part of the Memorial grounds as a landing strip for airplanes would be inconsistent with the purposes for which the area was established; consequently, I am opposed to such a development." [114] Even though Kinsey indicated that an application for the airstrip would be sent to the National Park Service for consideration, neither Newton Drury nor Julian Spotts ever received any such application. Despite Parks' and Lambert's enthusiasm, promises that the strip would be temporary, and a city counselor ruling that such a strip would not be illegal, no application was ever filed. On September 5, 1944, the city's Airport Commission decided not to present an application to the National Park Service. [115]

Amidst criticism that the association was at fault for not keeping the memorial ideals before the public, Luther Ely Smith and memorial supporters examined other considerations. In January 1944 Smith approached the City Plan Commission about passing zoning ordinances. Smith wanted uniform building heights for property next to the memorial area. No matter what the ultimate memorial scheme, the adjacent area should be of an orderly design. A major concern remained the parking proposals, for the civic leaders believed parking should be provided for both memorial visitors and downtown patrons. Association member William D'Arcy publicly proposed an underground parking area to pay for the proposed riverfront development. D'Arcy predicted thousands of vehicles could be parked underground, generating annual revenues as high as $900,000. During the course of the war, city buses had parked on the memorial area as a conservation effort, and Luther Ely Smith proposed using this area for general public parking at the war's end. The city could administer such a parking project with the understanding that the National Park Service could revoke the permit at will. [116] This basic agreement worked for many years, for the memorial site served as a large parking lot operated by the city with revenues going to the memorial until the memorial construction began in 1959. A much smaller lot continued to provide this service until 1984.

In the fall of 1944 the Park Service prepared itself for the site's postwar development by examining the memorial's purpose and theme. National Park Service Assistant Chief Historian Charles W. Porter III believed it necessary to understand the relationship of the Park Service's national historic site project in St. Louis to the older project, that of a national expansion memorial, started by the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission. The two projects were legally separate. The distinction was, in Porter's opinion, important because a memorial's scope would be broader than that of a national historic site. This could result in a wide variance between the two interpretive programs. The National Park Service fully intended to develop the historic site harmoniously with the commission; but the project still needed to conform to the Park Service's ideals. [117]

Porter believed Jefferson National Expansion Memorial's interpretive program should interpret United States history, especially as related to physical remains and sites on the memorial grounds. This interpretation should not duplicate the historical stories of other Park Service historic areas, though the program should be integrated with other areas interpreting the Louisiana Purchase story. If Jefferson National Expansion Memorial were a national historic site rather than a memorial, existing historical remains on the site should be preserved. Porter suggested preserving the old city street layout and the streets themselves, if they still possessed their historical character. No physical object on the site remained to signify the history of the Louisiana Purchase. A symbolic memorial, however, could not tell the historical story as effectively as a good museum. Porter believed that only by emphasizing one theme, the Louisiana Purchase, making it the legitimate theme of the historic site, and by interpreting only the sites of outstanding national importance, "could there exist spontaneity and genuineness in the interpretive program." If the Park Service kept memorialization at the level of small, artistically excellent bronzes with a courthouse museum serving as the central feature, the memorial would possess the best of national historic site preservation and interpretation. [118]

Director Drury requested that Julian Spotts and his staff members submit their ideas on the memorial's concept and the treatment they deemed best. Drury also wanted their comments on Porter's report. Spotts believed the memorial feature of the project to be the most difficult to solve, because it was quite possible that as a historic site, no memorial feature would be necessary. Spotts believed that an inspirational memorial on the site could be a Mecca, attracting people who would then come into contact with the Park Service's interpretive work. If the National Park Service had no memorial plan, Spotts thought it best to cooperate with the association's and the commission's proposed competition. [119]

As the war drew to a close the association prepared to hold a national competition for a memorial design. Two suggestions for a memorial arch surfaced earlier than 1948. Architect Louis La Beaume received a proposal from a man named William W. Steel in July 1936. Steel thought the memorial's central feature should be an arch; the most beautiful arch ever built, surpassing the Parisian Arc de Triumphe. Standing 200 feet tall with an observation platform on top, the structure would be made of granite "to endure forever." [120] In 1945 Julian Spotts considered suggestions that the memorial should preserve the area as a "historic site with interpretation," as well as be enhanced by an "inspirational" memorial along the lines of a Washington Monument or a Statue of Liberty. Spotts viewed these memorials as "stunts" which in time became traditional landmarks. However, he informed Director Drury of an idea which had developed in St. Louis, but which Spotts considered to be nothing more than a stunt. The idea was for a free-standing hollow arch 1,200 feet wide and 240 feet high with buildings at each end used for museum and interpretive purposes. The arch itself would consist of two arches, one above the other, with transverse partitions at intervals and an open corridor longitudinally the full length of the arch and side walls at the outer edge of both faces. Windows in the walls would permit views of the surrounding country, with the interior being decorated with exhibits and maps. Pedestrians could walk through the arch at no charge. Such a structure could possibly exist as an inspirational memorial representative of the "Gateway to the West," symbolic of westward expansion. Julian Spotts did not advocate nor promote the memorial arch, thinking it too bold in conception. If such a memorial were forced upon the National Park Service Spotts could take the idea seriously, but his purpose in explaining the plan to Drury was informational. [121]

Franklin Roosevelt was a President who possessed a sense of history; an ability to look into the future and make decisions based upon what he saw. In the midst of the burden of guiding a nation fighting for its economic life, Roosevelt took time to consider building a monument to another American's vision. Members of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association planned to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's 202nd birthday on April 13, 1945. In gratitude they invited both Roosevelt and Vice President Harry Truman to the ceremony in the Old Courthouse. Both sent their regrets; and on April 12, Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia, leaving the man from Missouri to lead the grieving nation.

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004