When it was first established in the early 1850s, the neighborhood known as Lucas Place was a piece of farmland on its way to becoming the first clearly defined wealthy suburb of St. Louis. Much has changed since then, as the city has expanded around the neighborhood and many of the elegant buildings have made way for more modern incarnations. One building, however, has largely stayed the same.
Built in 1851, the Campbell House was the home of renowned fur trader and businessman Robert Campbell and his family. The Campbells would continue to occupy the house until 1938, acquiring furniture, paintings, clothing, and other period artifacts to fill the house over the years. The family also took a detailed set of interior photographs in the 1880s that were only rediscovered in the late 20th century. These photographs would prove to be of great historical importance, as they formed the basis for a massive renovation project that would result in the opening of the Campbell House Museum.
Today, the Campbell House Museum attracts visitors from St. Louis and beyond, many of whom come to get a glimpse of what the city was like before modern conveniences such as electricity. The house retains many of the family's original possessions, as well as library books and state archives that offer a further glimpse into 19th-century American life.
The Vino Gallery—located in a renovated police substation in the Central West End—houses an impressive selection of small-production and artisan wines, beers, and other libations amid an ever-evolving collection of local art. The staff guides visitors to the tasting bar or the outdoor patio, allowing guests to sample selections and avoid pouring wines they don’t like into a roommate’s humidifier. Rachael Buehrer, wine enthusiast and educator, and coowner Alex Head, promote informed wine consumption with complimentary tastings after 5 p.m., Monday–Friday, and all day on Saturday. One-hour wine classes lend imbibers further wine expertise, and the wine-of-the-month club helps customers branch out from go-to varietals.
The Barn was built as an addition on the beautiful Sappington House property, which also includes an 1808 home, duck pond, and gift shop. Though originally intended as an honorarium to the home's renovator, Carolyn C. McDonnell, the Barn now stands as a quaint restaurant, serving breakfast and lunch Tuesday-Sunday.
Visitors can satiate their appetites with a rasher of bacon and eggs or dip into a hearty black bean burger topped with melted cheddar cheese. The farmhouse salad is a massive tribute to fresh vegetables as it comes piled with carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green onions.
Where can you learn the stories of Civil War soldiers, discover little-known facts about famous figures such as Chuck Berry, and see St. Louis Cardinals artifacts from the 1960's Busch Stadium all in one place? The Missouri History Museum boasts an expansive collection of photographs, artifacts, and maps that reveal some of the nation's and state's most intimate stories. Originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson, the site now offers exhibits that include items such as the sister plane to Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and images of the buildings and grand palaces that were erected for the 1904 World's Fair.
In addition to rotating exhibits, events such as lectures, genealogical workshops, theatrical performances, and movie screenings offer guests a bridge to the past and a new perspective on the future. The museum is also planning a 2014 exhibit to commemorate St. Louis's 250th anniversary, which will unfold via 50 people, 50 places, 50 moments, 50 images, and 50 objects representing the city's richness and diversity.
Though built as a private home in 1901, the Victorian mansion stood vacant for years?until its first children's hands-on exhibits opened to the public more than 30 years ago. Since then, The Magic House's curators have worked to engage children of all ages in learning and creative thought through a range of interactive multimedia exhibits. Their exhibits enable visitors to service cars, climb treehouse ladders, and go fishing in a child-centric community, or play with pumps and pipes in a waterworks playground. They can also climb a three-story fairy-tale beanstalk or use detective skills, fingerprint analyses, and secret passageways to solve mysteries.
Museum staffers also organize a range of themed birthday parties, during which attendees play and complete special tasks as time travelers, scientists, or fairy-tale nobility. Family programs encompass monthly visits from outside professional artists, and special events designed to get the whole family moving. Visitors can refuel for exploration at the on-site Picnic Basket Cafe, whose menu highlights whole grains and healthy ingredients.
Laclede's Landing Wax Museum has been scaring and astonishing sightseers since 1983. Behind its 1885 cast-iron façade, the museum harbors more than 200 life-size figures across five levels and 10,000 square feet of museum space. The display of doppelgangers includes presidents, superheroes, historic figures, and movie stars, allowing visitors to gaze upon scores of famous faces without taking the rigorous paparazzi entrance exam. In the Chamber of Horrors, fictional villains old and new, including Freddy Krueger and the Phantom of the Opera, test the mettle of onlookers. Patrons can stop by the museum's gift shop before leaving or replenish the energy spent arguing with the statues with the help of ice cream, hot dogs, and other snacks at the ice-cream parlor.