History and Design in St. Louis
Study Interior Design in St. Louis, Missouri
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After your arrival in St. Louis, you might want to stretch your legs a bit. A perfect place to do that is the Gateway Arch. Perhaps one of the most recognizable landmarks in the entire United States, the Gateway Arch is a record-setting example of modern architecture. Built in 1963, the Gateway Arch is the world’s tallest arch and the largest manmade arch. The brainchild of Eero Saarinen, the exterior is decidedly grander than the interior, but you can take a trip up to the top, see a small museum and look out over all that is St. Louis. Once you’ve finished at the top, you can head back to Earth and spend some time in the Gateway to the West Museum and learn more about the Arch and the country’s venture west.
As its name might suggest, St. Louis has some French roots. A great place to explore those French roots is the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion. You can tour the house, first enjoying the Greek Revival style of the architecture on the outside, and then once you’re inside you’ll be swept away, enjoying a tour of the mansion while listening to the stories about it. The entire third floor is dedicated to the 1904 World’s Fair and has the largest exhibition of Louisiana Purchase memorabilia in the country. It’s not just beautiful to look at; you’ll find it’s also a beautiful look into Missouri’s history.
Built in 1894, St. Louis’ Union Station is a National Historic Landmark. It is fully operational as a train station and serves several lines that run through the city, but it’s also an architectural wonder. It’s an old world Romanesque Revival wonder whose vaulted red roofs stand out among the more modern parts of the city. The inside of the station is perhaps even more impressive than the outside, and the best part is fittingly named the Grand Hall. Hundreds of thousands of passengers have bustled through here, marveling at the frescos, the stained glass, the gold detailing and the mosaics. Before you’re finished exploring, be sure to grab a buddy and check out the Whispering Arch. No matter what’s going on around you, if each of you stand and talk at one side of the arch, the other will be able to hear you loud and clear on the other side.
If you’re a fan of period art and literature, you might find the near-perfectly preserved Victorian age architecture and interior of the Campbell House Museum intriguing. Behind the house’s simple exterior is a bright, bold and beautiful example of what the home of a millionaire looked like in the late 19th century. During regular business hours, the museum staff will guide you on a tour. You’ll see the house interior, hear what life was like for the Campbell family, and get a glimpse into what St. Louis was like at the time.
Just a quick jaunt outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area is the Kraus House, also known as the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park. Its mid-century modern architecture was designed by none other than — you guessed it — its namesake. It’s now owned by a small non-profit and offers tours throughout the week. Frank Lloyd Wright was responsible for designing more than 1000 structures, and while this house wasn’t formally completed, many of his signature stylings are on view. You can’t take pictures of the inside of the house, so make your stroll through slow so you don’t miss any of the nuances of Wright’s design.
You might not have ever thought of St. Louis as a hotspot for the arts, but back in the early to mid-20th century, the scene was thriving. The Fox Theater is one of five with the name and at the time of its construction was one of the grandest movie houses in the United States. The exterior is done in the Siamese Byzantine style and the interior is a picture perfect example of classic theaters. The seats are a rich red, the walls are a deep mahogany with carved detail, and the art on the ceiling is almost as fascinating as whatever show is onstage.
The last stop on your tour before heading to the airport combines two styles of architecture that you’ve already seen with an interior that may make you feel like you’re touring a church in Europe. The Cathedral Basilica St. Louis’ exterior is Neo-Byzantine and Romanesque Revival. When you walk in, look up, as the ceilings are masterpieces of design and covered in murals of religious imagery and swirling mosaics.
St. Louis is an underrated destination to explore and study interior design. While in recent years more modern buildings have gone up, the area has done a remarkable job of preserving gems from the past. Whether you’re inside or outside, look up, because much of the beauty is right above you. The ceilings are often just as lovely as the buildings that house them.
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