St. Louis Arch Grounds Remain In Limbo



So now maybe there won't be a big American migration museum on the Arch grounds.


On the heels of my story last week about the St. Louis Arch grounds, and specifically the fact that Congressman William ''Lacy'' Clay had introduced a bill in Congress which would transfer control of parts of the grounds to a public group led by the Danforth Foundation, came word in the Post-Dispatch that former Senator John Danforth had recently informed the Department of Interior (whose National Park Service currently controls the property) that declines in the stock market prevented his family foundation from making good on its pledge to foot some of the bill for a major new museum.

Then, Sunday's paper revealed in an editorial that Danforth is now endorsing the Park Service's plan to revamp the blueprint for the site.

Neither piece mentioned that Congressman Clay filed his bill back on October 3 as Congress was breaking for the election, and that Clay, as his office told me, was hoping to give the bill a head start in the upcoming legislative session beginning in January.

''Senator Danforth and I have a good relationship,'' Clay said in a long statement to RFT last month. ''The bottom line is that any change in the status of the Arch has to go across my desk. That's a huge responsibility and I'm keeping an open mind.''

Apparently the congressman was unaware that Danforth had had a big change of heart.

Clay's office declines to comment.

It'll be interesting to see what happens next, as the Danforth Foundation had already lined up numerous supporters behind its project and had been doing a lot of lobbying over the last year.

Next month or early in January the Park Service will release its draft plan for the site.

Many national groups - the National Parks Conservation Association, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Western Lands Project, among them - have recently taken an interest in the issue and are hoping to have a say in the project.

-Kristen Hinman

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.