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Writing in Nature: Tower Grove Park

by Jennifer Adele

Of all the public places to choose from for my writing exploits, both fiction and nonfiction, along with what I consider a prime spot creative art workings, Tower Grove Park is in my personal “Top 10.” There’s just so much to love about this place, as an author especially. The historical content, the natural features, and the eclectic mix of structures all add to a location that is a truly unique gem for the local St. Louis region. If you haven’t been, you are totally missing out!

Tower Grove Park is considered a municipal park in the City of St. Louis and has even been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Most of its land was donated to the city by Henry Shaw in 1868 and it has remained in private domain ever since that generous gift was made. The park sits on 289 acres adjacent to the Missouri Botanical Garden, another of Shaw’s legacies… and a fascinating place to visit for creative inspiration as well. The park itself extends 1.6 miles from west to east, between Kingshighway Boulevard and Grand Avenue. It is bordered on the north by Magnolia Avenue and on the south by Arsenal Street. Entrances can be found on all sides of the park for easy access by visitors.

The most intriguing aspects about this location, other than the griffin statues that guard the main entrances, are the pavilions found strategically scattered throughout. Tower Grove Park boasts 11 pavilions of picturesque design, dating from the early Victorian era. These structure not only provide shady resting spots where visitors can enjoy the many lovely views, but also tables and benches for picnics and various writing and artistic endeavors. Each pavilion also has its own theme, so no matter what you are writing about, odds are you will find a location within the park that has a harmonious vibrational pattern. A few of the key pavilion themes include: Victorian, Classic English, Oriental, Egyptian, and a fun Carnival-esque space. The well-tended park landscape itself includes a lily pond complete with frogs and life-affirming tadpoles, along with a wide variety of non-native and lush formal plantings. The Piper Palm House, tennis courts, wading pool for small children, and vast open expanses of green are additional features where a softer tone can be felt or even induced, if so needed. Pathways for walkers shielded by tall and ancient trees, and a great variety of bushes, create the urge to explore and write for adventure, for the experience, for the sake of it. If you are looking for that intrinsic spark that can be found from staring into the mouth of a path that could lead anywhere, the mystery of a journey from the very beginning, look no further than this plush park.

Tower Grove Park is certainly a spot where artists and authors can summon the muse. I go there to find my own sense of adventure and to create story lines that have fantastic details and facets, facets that can twist and turn all throughout the writer’s own individual process. Perhaps it’s the eclectic tone of the many different architectural designs that makes me suddenly want to write or snap interesting images on my camera to capture a moment within time, a look, and a glimpse. Maybe is it the expansive areas of open green lands that continue to call me back. Whatever the case, why not get out there and see what Tower Grove Park can call forth for you, from within you?…

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