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Statues of Tower Grove Park

"There is no more appropriate place for the works of the sculptor, commemorative of historical characters and exalted types of genius," insisted a commissioner of Tower Grove Park in 1883 , "than the public pleasure grounds of a great city. Such places are disassociated from all political, religious or social antagonisms; people generally visit them in their happiest, most reflective moods, and on days when the cares and anxieties of business and labor are laid aside."

The idyllic scene described at the end of the nineteenth century retains great appeal in contemporary times.

To introduce among such scenes the statues of distinguished men, who, in art, literature or science, have conferred enduring benefits on the human race, is not only a deserved honor to the memory of such characters, but strengthens and widens the influence of their example and of the works they have left behind. Here the sculptor's work is seen by all classes; it exercises the influence inseparable from a production of art, and promotes the knowledge and discussion of the illustrious character represented. It stands surrounded by the perennial beauties of nature, expressing the noble idea that humanity is grateful for the efforts and sacrifices of genius, and honors its memory by monuments composed of the most enduring materials.

It adds greatly to the interest of Tower Grove Park that it is adorned by works of art of a high order, all of them being commemorative of popular types of genius.

The four full-length sculptures:

  • Ferdinand von Miller 's William Shakespeare dedicated 23 April 1878;
  • Miller's Alexander von Humboldt , dedicated 24 November 1878;
  • Miller's Christopher Columbus , dedicated 12 October 1886; and
  • Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben , originally commissioned for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition; moved to Tower Grove Park, 1968.

On the lawn surrounding the music pavilion, which is situated a little north of the statues of Shakespeare and Humboldt, and about midway between them, are the white marble replacement busts of the famous musical composers:

  • Howard Kretschmar 's Mozart (1882);
  • Kretschmar's Rossini (1882);
  • Ferdinand von Miller's Beethoven (1884);
  • Miller's Wagner (1884);
  • Gounod by Carlo Nicoli (1886); and
  • Verdi (1886) by Nicoli.

The metallic figures adorning the Grand Avenue entrance of lions and griffins , and the recumbent stags near the north gate, are also works of art of decided merit. They were designed and executed in Berlin, and were imported for the ornamentation of the gateways by the Board of Commissioners, and are made of zinc, which is, when kept carefully painted, almost as indestructible as bronze.

The statues and busts are gifts of Mr. Henry Shaw to the people of St. Louis for the permanent adornment of the park.