Lewis and Clark’s Stained Glass Windows Must Be Salvaged
As our ongoing efforts to save the Lewis and Clark Branch Library have stalled in the face of St. Louis County Library’s repeated refusals to consider alternatives to demolition, Modern STL is – albeit grimly – turning its attentions towards preserving the building’s incredible stained glass windows. Internationally recognized artist Robert Harmon, whose work for Emil Frei & Associates graces dozens of modern churches throughout our region, wove these vibrant glass panels into the curtain wall wrapping around the library’s main and side facades. They are unparalleled in subject and execution, presenting patrons with the figures of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark with Sacagawea, their Shoshone guide, joined by geometric patterns, swimming fish, and a leaping buffalo.
St. Louis County Library’s leadership has publicly expressed its intention to reinstall Harmon’s work in the new branch building, set to open sometime next year. The Board of Trustees’ September 2013 meeting minutes state that, “Regarding Lewis and Clark, … We plan to save the stained glass windows and incorporate them into the new building in a prominent location” (see the full minutes here). Library Director Kristen Sorth was quoted in an otherwise unfavorable March 20th Post-Dispatch editorial as stating that “the windows will be preserved ‘and prominently displayed’ in the new library branch.”
While promising, no details about this plan have been released. Modern STL’s primary concerns are that the windows are de-installed and reinstalled properly, by experts, and that they are relocated in total, not in part. To that end, Board President Neil Chace and Board Vice President Michael Allen sent the following letter to Director Sorth; while we’ve had no response, with your support Modern STL plans to do all we can to ensure that some part of Lewis and Clark survives.
Please email both Lynn Beckwith, Jr., President of SLCL’s Board of Trustees (email@example.com), and Kristen Sorth, SLCL Director (firstname.lastname@example.org), to tell them to publicly guarantee that all of Lewis and Clark’s stained glass will be preserved. Whether reinstalled in the new library branch or given to a more appreciative steward, this glass must be saved, and we need to hold SLCL’s leaders to their word!