I never expected to see a cathedral like this in St. Louis, Missouri. Completed in 1914 this spectacular building would be a natural in some European capital, but a surprise in the heart of the U.S. From a distance, the walls and ceiling of this cathedral look painted. With a closer look you see that they are covered in 41.5 million glass pieces in more than 7,000 colors. Covering 83,000 square feet, it is the largest mosaic collection in the world. More than intricate, it’s staggering. These photos are just a sample.
The subject of this photo challenge is to share a photo that for “foregoes the straightforward.” No one did that better than Frank Lloyd Wright, as you can see from these pictures of a Wright-designed house in Ebsworth Park, Kirkwood, MO, near St. Louis. It was completed in 1955 for Russell and Ruth Krause. I couldn’t photograph the interior of the home, but the house is famous for its Wright-designed furnishings, which are odd and uncomfortable-looking, as full of zig-zags as the exterior. But, I think creativity was Wright’s goal, not comfort.
Wright’s life was even more fascinating than his architectural ideas and it’s been the subject of a number of books that I highly recommend, especially if you’re going to visit any of his famous buildings. Be sure to read the non-fiction book Many Masks: A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright by Brendan Gill, and the fiction works Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, and T.C. Boyle’s The Women.
On April 7, 1933 brothers August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III decided to surprise their father, August A. Busch, Sr., with a six-horse Clydesdale team pulling a bright red beer wagon to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition. They couldn’t have known at the time that they were setting in motion one of the world’s most recognizable corporate icons. Now, the “gentle giants” are beloved and recognized well beyond the beer brand they represent.
Louis, Mo. which offers family friendly tours. Check out St. Louis Mom for her take on the tour. The horses also frolic in the fields at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis, the Clydesdale “prep school.” Grant Farm’s behind-the-scenes “Clydesdale Experience” tour provides an in-depth look at what it takes for a young Clyde to become an official Budweiser Clydesdale. Guests tour the stables while gaining an inside look into the operations, the training process, and daily horse maintenance. Heaven for horse-loving kids. Reserve ahead! Warm Springs Ranch, the 300-plus acre Clydesdale breeding farm located near Boonville, Mo., also offers tours.
Not just any Clydesdales qualifies for one of the traveling teams or “hitches.” A Budweiser Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four years of age, stand 72 inches at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, have a bay coat, four white legs, a white blaze (that big stripe on his nose), and a black mane and tail, so not all the horses make the team.
Ah, to be a Clydesdale! (aside from the gelding part.) The official home of the Budweiser Clydesdales is an ornate brick, stained-glass, and chandelier-festooned stable, built in 1885 on the historic 100-acre lAnheuser-Busch St. Louis brewery complex. The building is one of three located on the brewery grounds that are registered as historic landmarks by the federal government. It’s much nicer and cleaner than most people’s homes.
There, the horses are brushed, curried, trimmed and shod like movie stars. When relaxing they wear stunning red coats sporting an embroidered “A” monogram. At work they wear hand-crafted patent leather and brass harnesses that weigh in at 130 pounds, a mere speck if you weigh 1800 pounds yourself, and fancy plumes on their heads.
The horses and the brewer have come a long way since the dark days of Prohibition from 1920 to 1933. Rather than close its doors, as more than half of the nation’s breweries did, Anheuser-Busch diversified and marketed more than 25 different non-alcohol products such as soft drinks, truck bodies and ice cream, among them Bevo, a non-alcohol cereal beverage. Yum. It’s no wonder the Busch family was as happy as Clydesdales in clover when the twenty-first amendment to the U.S. Constitution ended Prohibition.
But they wouldn’t have made it through Prohibition without ingenuity and savvy marketing skills and they soon realized the marketing potential of that horse-drawn beer wagon. So, the company also arranged to have a second six-horse Clydesdale hitch sent to New York on April to celebrate the event. The Clydesdales drew a crowd of thousands as they clattered down the streets of New York City to the Empire State Building. After a small ceremony, a case of Budweiser was presented to former Governor Alfred E. Smith in appreciation of his years of service in the fight against Prohibition.
Recognizing that they had a pretty good thing going with the Clydesdales the company extended their tour through New England and the Middle Atlantic States, drawing giant crowds along the way. That included a stop in Washington D.C. in to reenact the delivery of one of the first cases of Budweiser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Still, the brewers couldn’t have imagined the horses they harnessed as a publicity stunt would turn into a brand icon and the annual stars of the Superbowl.
Read Up!: All the King’s Horses: The Story of The Budweiser Clydesdales by Steven D. Price.
For Kids: Ruby, the Diva Clydesdale
by Ramona Lampe
I was in St. Louis last week where all the trees were in bloom, especially those beautiful Redbuds. It was beautiful enough to make allergy sufferers ignore their sneezing.
We’re not there yet in Minneapolis, which is what makes the annual “Art in Bloom” event at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts so popular. Gorgeous flowers bloom along side the art, no matter what the weather.
Walk anywhere around beautiful Busch Stadium in St. Louis before a Cardinals game and you can’t help but be caught up in the tide of red-clad baseball fans. Even if you lack dyed-in-the-(red)-wool citizenship in Cardinals Nation, their enthusiasm for the team is infectious. You, too, will become a fan, if only for a night.
But, you don’t want to appear a total rookie, blowing in from out of town like a bad throw from left field. Instead, brush up on the local baseball lore so you can dazzle your companions in the bleachers when you casually mention “Stan the Man,” Willie McGee, or perhaps Ducky Medwick. (I just like to say “Ducky Medwick.”) To do that, head over to the newly opened Ballpark Village, a $100 million entertainment complex adjacent to Busch Stadium and make your first stop at the Busch II Infield adjacent to the village. The new stadium opened in 2006 but Busch II is laid out along the same lines as the old ballpark’s diamond giving fans a chance to walk the sacred ground once tread upon by legends, as well as partake of another local legend, Ted Drewes frozen custard.
Next stop in your education: Cardinals Nation, inside Ballpark Village, where you’ll
find The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum. It boasts the largest team-held collection in Major League Baseball, second only to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with over 16,000 memorabilia items and over 80,000 archival photographs. Along with the museum, Cardinals Nation contains a two-story restaurant and a roof top deck with a view of the game. Also inside Ballpark Village you’ll find FOX Sports Midwest Live! which features a stage for live concerts and performances, a state-of-the-art 40 foot diagonal high definition LED screen, and immersive LED ribbon boards that will encircle the two level space; PBR St, Louis: A Cowboy Bar which claims to have “the world’s meanest mechanical bull;” the Budweiser Brewhouse, and several other establishments that make this a year-round destination.
Finally, to sound like a real insider, you’ll want to hit the books. I know that beer, not books, may be the first word you associate with baseball, but you won’t be sorry if you complete your Cardinals curriculum with a few of the reading ideas I got from Ron Watermon, the team’s VP of communications, which appear below along with a couple of my own. For more great baseball books, see my post Major League Vacation. This effort may seem a little disloyal to your home team. My newfound enthusiasm for the Cards makes me feel a little like I’m cheating on my other boyfriends, the Minnesota Twins (if only they’d win more often) and the Detroit Tigers (who I grew up with). But what the heck, when in St. Louis…. So, read up, drink up, batter up— and be sure to wear red.
Stan Musial: An American Lifeby George Vecsey
One Last Strike:Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season by Tony La Russa
3 Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager by Buzz Bissinger
100 Things Cardinals Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Derrick Goold
And for Kids,
St. Louis Cardinals 101 by Brad M. Epstien
Meet the Cardinals by Mike Kennedy and Mark Stewart
Travel to the places you read about. Read about the places you travel.