13th, 14th, Locust, Saint Charles Street
With the development of Washington Avenue and the new lofts in the area, Lucas Garden Park has a neighborhood again.
It has been a long time since the small park tucked behind the downtown library was in a residential neighborhood.
Lucas Garden was the site of a brick house built by Judge Lucas in 1820 facing the present St. Charles Street or King's Road, as it was called. There is still a flowing spring in the Public Library basement that was the water supply for the Judge's home.
"Desirous of contributing to the ornament and health of the City of St. Louis and at the same time to establish a permanent monument to the memory of his ancestor (father) the late Honorable John B. C. Lucas, in the shape of a public square bearing his name," reads the deed signed by James H. and Marie E. Lucas on March 24, 1857, giving the block of land immediately north of the St. Louis Public Library to St. Louisians. The deed states further that, "This conveyance is however made with the express condition, to wit: that said public square shall forever be maintained as a public promenade for the inhabitants of the City of St. Louis."
On the same day in 1857 that he signed the deed on Lucas Garden, James H. Lucas sold the block where the Public Library now stands to the city for the sum of $95,000.
In 1859, a board of improvement for the park was created and its development started.
Its layout caused Locust Street to be closed at 13th and the park was given an asymmetrical plan with a bandstand near the foot of Lucas Place. Sale of the buildings at the southwest corner of the park was authorized by Ordinance in 1872. From the time of the first appropriation in 1858 to 1877, $41,465 was spent on it.
The entire 6.25 acres was named Missouri Park and provided popular downtown breathing space until the erection of the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall in 1883. Licensed to a private corporation for a period of 50 years, the ground was restored to use as a park in 1907 and designs for the Italian Renaissance inspired library building were drawn up by the famous architect Cass Gilbert. The library was completed in 1912.
Locust Street was reopened behind the Library from 13th to 14th Streets and the present sunken garden with its fountain was developed.
Sculptress Nancy Coonsman Hahn's stone benches dot the landscape.
The Downtown Children's center uses Lucas Park as part of its playground area. A turtle stands in the middle of their play area...the work of artist Robert Cassilly, whose Turtle Playground is in Forest Park.
A coalition of residents, students, property and business owners, Downtown Now and the Downtown Partnership have formed the Lucas Park Beautification Project to raise funds to renovate the park.
Margaret R. Kincaid Drinking Fountain
Stone benches by
Sculptress Nancy Coonsman Hahn