I depart most mornings from the Hanley Station to head downtown to work. I am a big fan of MetroLink, even though I “abandoned” it for a few years in my commute. I was working late quite often, and I just wanted my car right there waiting for me when I was ready to head home vs. having to wait in Convention Plaza station for a train late in the evening.

Now that I’m busted down to a three-day work week, I’ve given up my parking spot at Mansion House and have begun riding the MetroLink again. I forgot how much I like doing it, although there has always been something about the commute that really bothers me.


Public Spitters

No, it’s not the people spitting off (and on) the platform (including scores of women who do it.) It’s not even the multiple, loud iPods hanging from the necks of other commuters buzzing near my ears like a swam of bees. It’s the mystery of “that castle” that I see every day up on the hill and through the trees just south of the stop at University of Missouri – St. Louis / South Campus station.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

The first time I saw it I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. I am a curious (okay, nosey) person, and I would have bet I had investigated most things there are to investigate around these parts, and I was amazed to see that “castle” the first time several years ago and realize I had no idea what it was. I also am amazed that it took me so long to do my research to try and figure out what it is. Usually I see it from the window of the train, make a mental note to look it up when I get home, and then by the time I get home I’ve forgotten about it.

st-vincent-county-parkLast night, though, I remembered and when I got home I pulled up a map on the Web of the area south of the UMSL campus including St. Peter’s Cemetery and Glen Echo Country Club.

If my arm-chair research is correct, I believe the castle was built by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul in the 1890s as a mental hospital and was actually called the Castle at Mount St. Vincent.

I’d post a photo, but I don’t have one yet. I couldn’t find one on the Web,  and that surprises me. Again, if my arm-chair research is correct, the magnificent building is now called Castle Park Apartments and sits on acres of land called St. Vincent Park and owned by St. Louis County Parks Department. I found a history and description of it, but I could not find a photo of it on the Web.

I had no knowledge of any of this, and I will need to go check this out further and get a photo. If anyone else has info to add about this, if you’ve actually been to this park, or in the castle, post some info here to share.

Here’s the document I found on the Web and what I know so far:

In the early 1890’s the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul originally purchased 97 acres of farmland from Francis and Emma Drew for $23,000 to build a mental hospital. The hospital was named the Castle at Mount St. Vincent. It was designed by George R. Mann and was built between 1892 and 1895 for less than $500,000.

Surrounding the hospital was a large farm operated by nuns and patients. Milk cows, hogs, and crops were raised for food. The farm provided jobs for the patients until operations ceased in the late 1940’s.

The “Castle” was closed June of 1978 and the Daughters of Charity relocated to the DePaul Community Health Center.

In June of 1978 St. Louis County purchased 120 acres of farmland from the Daughters plus another 14 acres in 1978 for a total cost of $947,000. Two L&WCF (Land and Water Conservation Funds) grants totaling more than one million dollars were received in 1978 and 1979 from the National Park Service for the purchase of the acreage and the initial park development.

The property is now St. Vincent Park. The Castle was not included in the park but was renovated as Castle Park Apartments. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Continental Water Company donated $85,000 towards the development of the parksite. The Federal Land and Water Conservation Funds also contributed over $500,000 for the acquisition and development of this parksite.

A $30,000 joint use exercise court for disabled and abled-bodied athletes was opened in August of 1988. It was dismantled in 1999 due to poor repair and lack of use.

The Community Center was opened in June 1989 as a result of 1986 voter approved Bond Issue monies. There are supervised recreational programs, civic group meetings, and organized basketball and day camps at the facility.
The Water Park was opened in August 1994. The Water Park has numerous water activities including a water slide and 80-foot flume ride. A food concession and lockers are available to the public.

The playground was redeveloped on the same site in 2000-2001.

A 1.36-acre parcel situated on the east side of Salerno Drive was acquired from the County Tax Assessor in 2003, completing the park’s circle around Castle Park Apartments and affording an opportunity to create a loop trail.

Editor’s Note: Here’s a > LINK < to a bio on George R. Mann, the architect. Apparently he also designed the Arkansas State Capitol building and other notable works.

Image of MetroLine from
Image of spitting fountain from
Map from MapQuest