- About Benton Park
- Location: S. Jefferson & Arsenal
- Acres: 14.3
- Donated Ordinance: 5852
- Ordinance Date: 1866
- 1 Lake - Stocked with fish of fishing
- 1 Reflecting pool
- 1 Comfort Station
- 1 Playground
- 1 Horseshoe court
- 2 Tennis courts (Lighted)
Benton Park's site was originally set aside for the City Cemetery (1833-1859) at the time of the sale of land in the old St. Louis Commons in 1836. A ten acre area was laid out there for cemetery purposes in 1840, but only one acre of it was fenced at that time. It ceased to be used as such in 1865 when the bodies were removed to the Quarantine burial grounds on Arsenal Island. It was created by City Ordinance on June 25, 1866 with its original area being 17 acres. It was later reduced to 14 1/3 acres by widening of its perimeter streets to become what is now the well-shaded and popular pleasure area.
One of the principal attractions is an artificial lake, a rustic bridge and a greenhouse. In its early history it was difficult to maintain a supply of water in this lake because in its initial years, the water tended to leak into the nearby English cave. This was later corrected by draining the lake and filling its crevices with concrete. Boating on this lake was a popular summer pastime and in 1888.
Close to the southern entrance of the park is a granite obelisk monument to the memory of Colonel Friedrich Karl Franz Hecker, who raised a regiment of local German-Americans during the Civil War, serving first under Fremont and later commanding his own brigade in the Union Army. The shaft, designed by architect Ernest C. Janssen, was dedicated in 1882.
In recent years, Benton Park has been completely remodeled and attractively landscaped with the city's neighborhood rehabilitation funds derived from the sale of City property, as part of the Cherokee Pilot Rehabilitation Area. The large playground is provided with new and modern equipment and an excellent storage and shelter building was erected overlooking the lake.
If you or someone you know has images of the area from old, PLEASE contact me and I can have them digitized and place them on the web for other to enjoy. I would love to create a complete history under the Neighborhood section of this web site but I will need content to do this. I will be scouring the History Museum Library for more images but, if you have some from your childhood or your parents do . . . please share them.
Freidrich Hecker Monument
Location: Benton Park, Jefferson & Arsenal
Sculptor: Charles Steubenraugh / Ernest C. Janssen
Hecker, Frederich - A German Revolutionist who came to St. Louis in the forties. Hecker commanded the German, 24th Illinois Infantry ("Hecker Regiment") and the 82nd Illinois Infantry. Hecker resided near Belleville, Illinois but when the war started he joined as a private in a St. Louis Union regiment. At the Battle of Chancellorsville, he severely wounded while carrying the battle flag during a charge on a Confederate position. He was also a leader in the failed German Revolution before coming to America.
The memorial is a shaft of gray stone. On two sides are circular medallions with the dates 1848 (German Revolution) in one, and 1861 (Civil War) in the other. There is a third medallion with a bronze portrait of Hecker, in high relief, set in on the North side. The sculptor was Charles Stubenraugh. On the opposite side is a bronze wreath of oak leaves. On four sides of the base of the shaft, above the medallions, are four torches carved in full relief in the stone, and above these are four stars in high relief. Ernest C. Janssen was the Architect, and the memorial was erected in 1882 before a crowd of 15,000.
Who Was Freidrich Hecker?