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03/05/10 3 small museums soldier on at Jefferson Barracks
02/01/10 Plan envisions national tourist attraction at Jefferson Barracks
01/27/10 St. Louis County mulls Grant museum in Jefferson Barracks
01/26/10 New Presidential Library part of the plan for Jefferson Barrack's future
05/05/09 Guardsman runs to pay tribute to death march survivors
03/06/09 1905 Building Being Transformed Into Civil War
08/04/08 K&S wins $24.8M state contract to build military center at Jefferson Barracks
 

From ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Friday, March 5, 2010
By Tim O'Neil

3 small museums soldier on at Jefferson Barracks

 
Missouri Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks. This is a view of the front of the building that faces out on the Jefferson Barracks parade grounds. (Photos by J.B. Forbes/P-D)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ST. LOUIS — With small donations and long hours, Mark Trout and his volunteers have made great strides in restoring an old wreck of a building at Jefferson Barracks for their museum on Missouri's role in the Civil War.

"We had raccoons living here. Beehives. Rats in the basement," said Trout, director and chairman of the Missouri Civil War Museum. "You could see the storms through the roof before they hit."

The old camp gymnasium, built in 1905, now has a new roof and is about 70 percent restored inside. The group has raised more than $1 million since 2002, and its members have done most of the sawing and hammering.

Theirs is one of three independent restoration projects under way at the old military camp in south St. Louis County. The efforts fit neatly into St. Louis County's plan to promote Jefferson Barracks as a tourist stop for the history-minded, and county officials are grateful for the work being done now.

In January, the county released a sweeping master plan for improving and promoting the historic buildings and grounds. Its goal is a major and unified attraction by 2026, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson Barracks.

It was the first permanent military installation west of the Mississippi River and a busy training center each time America went to war until 1946, when the Army moved out. The Missouri National Guard and Army Reserve still operate there and are building a $27 million administrative center, which is designed to blend with the red-brick 19th-century architecture all around it.

The national cemetery, the Veterans Affairs hospital and a county park cover most of the camp's original 1,705 acres, which sit atop the Mississippi River bluffs just north of Interstate 255.

Trout's group needs an additional $250,000 to open the museum by April 11, 2011, the 150th anniversary of the bombardment of Fort Sumter at Charleston, S.C., that began the Civil War.

 
  This room used to be the gymnasium of the building with basketball hoops and a short oval running track. It will house exhibits about Jefferson Barracks.

"That's our goal, anyway," Trout said. Similar hopes are told by the organizers of the other private museum efforts, and were the dreams of another project that, sadly, went away. Status report:

— The Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation completed restoration in 2007 of the Red Cross building, next door to the old gym and a USO of sorts during World War II. The association's big plan is to remake the camp's Building 27, a 114-year-old barracks, as a museum to the American soldier. The National Guard uses that building now, but it's set to move operations to the new one beginning this summer.

"We're waiting on the military, and times are tough for fundraising," said William Florich, foundation director.

It spent $250,000 restoring the Red Cross building, which houses a display of military uniforms and "Wall of Honor" to ordinary American service personnel since the Revolution. The foundation has raised about $1 million of its $15 million goal for its next big job.

— A group of telephone-company retirees is almost done restoring one of the former officers' homes along the parade ground for a museum of communications technology dating to the 19th century. Their link to the barracks is that it was "wired" back in 1898, in the old-old days of telephones.

Carol Johannes, coordinator, said the group has raised about $60,000, done almost all of the work itself and hopes to open this fall.

"With technology changing so rapidly, we want kids to see what it used to look like," Johannes said.

— The building next to the telephone museum housed a Civilian Conservation Corps museum for 21 years until summer 2008, when the few surviving alums of the Depression-era jobs program couldn't keep it going anymore. A statue honoring the CCC still stands, but there is no plan to replace the museum.

The county maintains museums in several 19th-century stone buildings on the north end of the park. That wouldn't change under the county's grand plan.

Dennis Coleman, chief executive of the county economic council, said the county's goal is to help coordinate the efforts already under way "so they can be of more value than as individual components. We believe we have a true national treasure here.

"If a visitor can know ahead of time that there is an entire collection of museums and historical sites, it can enhance the experience," he said. "It can encourage development for South County."

GRANT LIBRARY

When the county released its master plan on Jan. 25, a headline-grabbing element was its proposal for a library in memory of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War hero and 18th president, who served at Jefferson Barracks as a young lieutenant and married a local girl, Julia Dent.

The idea has caused some dissension among the Civil War museum people and appears to face a serious roadblock — the keeper at Mississippi State University of the largest collection of Grant's papers says it is fine where it is.

Trout, of the Civil War group, said the Grant library "would be in competition with us. We already are close to making a significant impact."

But Florich, of the Heritage Foundation, said Trout "has it backwards. The library would help us all."

As disputes go, this one is low-key, largely because of the sentiments of John Marszalek, a retired history professor at Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., director of the U.S. Grant Association and keeper of its collection.

The papers were moved there in 2008 from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale after the death of his predecessor, historian John Y. Simon.

"We have a good agreement with the university," Marszalek said. "I'd bet the farm we're not going anywhere."

Said Coleman of the county economic council, "The Grant piece could be very significant to this effort, but it will still go on without it. And (the Grant) people can always change their minds."

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From The Suburban Journals
By Jim Merkel
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Plan envisions national tourist attraction at Jefferson Barracks

More people may be coming to a memorial to the Battle of the Bulge at Jefferson Barracks County Park.

And Stewart Piper, a Battle of the Bulge veteran who helped bring the memorial to the park, is happy about that prospect.

Piper referred to a plan announced last week for converting the collection of buildings, parkland and military bases at Jefferson Barracks into a national tourist attraction. The plan to bring in as many as 180,000 to 250,000 visitors a year and help the local economy would cost about $68 million.

"It's something we needed a long time ago," Piper, 86, said. "It's a great idea."

About 160 people turned out for an open house and program held Jan. 25 in the Jefferson Barracks County Park visitors center. Most of those at the open house reacted positively.

"I think it's great. We've lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. We see this as a tremendous opportunity to put a lot of things in one place," said Bob Pennycuick, 71, a retired major general in the U.S. Army Reserve.

"It looks pretty good to me. I won't be around to see the end of it," William Sachs, 87, who found in the South Pacific in World War II, said.

But Harrison Ochs, 87, expressed concern about the proposal's possible effort on plans to expand the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The cemetery is running out of space.

The plan is the result of a year-long study by Woolpert, a national planning company with offices in St. Louis. The plan cost nearly $300,000. A total of $269,000 was provided by the Department of Defense and about $30,000 by the St. Louis County Economic Council.

The master plan calls for new museums, lodging, shops and roads to better connect different parts of the former installation.

The attraction would be built in phases with completion by 2026, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson Barracks.

A primary building would be a new presidential library and museum, Scott Emmelkamp, Jefferson Barracks project manager with Woolpert, said.

While no president has been designated, one might be U.S. Grant, who served at the installation, Emmelkamp said.

There also would be an interpretive center.

"There's not one place in Jefferson Barracks now that tells the whole story," Emmelkamp said.

Proponents of the plan believe the Jefferson Barracks' history will make it attractive to tourists.

Troops came to the installation before fighting in the Mexican War, Civil War, World War I and World War II. Civil War leaders who served there besides Grant included Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. The post was decommissioned in 1946.

The plan would pull together land that now includes the Sylvan Springs and Jefferson Barracks county parks. Other parts to be include are a Missouri National Guard base, Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery and Jefferson Barracks VA Medical Center.

Funding could be through a tax-funded district, tax increment financing, historic tax credits or private money, the plan said.

The proposal pleased John Deguire of Feed My People, a ministry for the needy with an office in Lemay near the Jefferson Barracks County Park.

"Jefferson Barracks is a jewel in the rough. The history of Jefferson Barracks is fantastic," Deguire said.

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From ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
By Matthew Hathaway

St. Louis County mulls Grant museum in Jefferson Barracks

 
Overall view of proposed Jefferson Barracks County Park expansion. St. Louis Co. Economic Council disclose unfunded plan to develop the Jefferson Barracks County Park and some state land as national attraction for military history buffs. The plan calls for a complex of museums on the site.
 
   

A Ulysses S. Grant presidential museum and library would be the centerpiece of a complex of new historical attractions at a revamped Jefferson Barracks, officials say.

A master plan disclosed this week calls for $68 million in improvements to the 1,000-acre complex that includes a St. Louis County park, national cemetery, veterans hospital and active military post.

The $300,000 plan, which was commissioned by the St. Louis County Economic Council and funded primarily by a federal grant, envisions the 184-year-old military complex as a national attraction for history-minded tourists and, locally, as an economic engine for South County.

Funding for the project would likely come from a variety of public and private sources, said Jackie Wellington, executive vice president of the economic council. The plan calls for completion in 2026, the 200th anniversary of the barracks' opening.

The cemetery, hospital and military reserve posts on the site would continue to operate. And efforts to open a Missouri Civil War Museum and another museum dedicated to the role of American "citizen soldier" would proceed.

Those facilities, along with existing military museums in St. Louis County's Jefferson Barracks Park, would complement a $6.8 million interpretive center and the Grant compound that would be built along the old military parade grounds.

At present, 19 presidents have libraries bearing their names,

The Grant library and museum would be dedicated to the Civil War hero whose scandal-plagued presidency would be remembered by many historians as one of the worst in American history. Construction costs would be about $13 million for the 15,000-square-foot facility.

"It wouldn't be a huge facility, but it would be an anchor," said project manager Scott Emmelkamp, of the Dayton, Ohio-based design firm Woolpert, which St. Louis County hired to write the plan.

Although Grant was born in Ohio, south St. Louis County seems a fitting place for his museum and library.

In 1843, shortly after he graduated from West Point, 2nd Lt. Grant began his military career at Jefferson Barracks. The following year, he met his future wife, Julia Dent, whose family lived about five miles from the post.

After their marriage in 1848, the couple lived at the Dent family home, White Haven, and briefly in a log cabin that Grant built and — unhappy with its construction — dubbed Hardscrabble. That building is now on the grounds of Grant's Farm, the Busch family estate. The Grants later moved back to White Haven, which is now operated by the National Park Service as the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, 7400 Grant Road.

In the near term, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said the county plans to boost Jefferson Barracks' profile by installing new signs. "This is one of the first things we've got to do — to let people know what a great destination Jefferson Barracks is," he said.

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From ksdk.com
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
By Mike Garrity
mgarrity@ksdk.com

New Presidential Library part of the plan for Jefferson Barrack's future

KSDK -- Could the St. Louis area someday be home to a Presidential Library and Museum?

A new Presidential Library is part of a new vision for the future of Jefferson Barracks.

For the past year, $200,000 have been used to study Jefferson Barracks, and come up with a plan for the future. On Monday night the findings were made public.

"They are pieces of American history," said World War II Veteran Bill Pilger, describing the historic buildings at Jefferson Barracks.

Pilger is all for preserving the barracks' history.

He began is World War II journey by reporting to Jefferson Barracks, and Monday night he was part of a crowd taking in the new 20 year plan.

The plan's aim: to make the entirety - in other words the National Cemetery, the V.A. medical complex, the Army/National Guard base, and the historic county park - all, a national tourist destination.

"Remember at one time Jefferson Barracks was the only military post west of the Mississippi," says St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, "and so it's got a rich heritage and so we want to showcase that heritage. You know the saying "you've got a diamond in the ruff"? We want to shine it up a little bit and showcase it."

The new plan calls for preservation, for instance turning one aging building into a Citizen-Soldier Museum, and another one into a bed and breakfast.

"There's a whole influx of people that come in here for National Guard weekends and they need a place to stay, and why not have them stay in a historic building on Jefferson Barracks," says Scott Emmelkamp, Project Manager of the planning study.

Fostering new attractions is also part of the plan -- like a Missouri Civil War Museum, set to open at Jefferson Barracks in about a year officials tell us.

In all, the plan calls for investing some $68 million into Jefferson Barracks by 2026. As part of that investment, the plan calls for the construction of a Presidential Library and Museum at Jefferson Barracks in honor of President Grant.

As far as where a Presidential library could be constructed? The plan suggests it be built an open space directly across the street from where the current active Army/National Guard base operates.

"You know the main thing its going to take to get a Grant Library here is the public support. You've got to have a lot of passion, a lot of support to try to get that here," says Emmelkamp.

To support a Grant Presidential Library the St. Louis County Economic Council is the organization to contact.

As far as funding this new Jefferson Barracks plan it will be all about going after private and public dollars for years to come.

Monday night Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-Missouri), for example, announced he has secured federal funding for new signage for Jefferson Barracks.

To check out the entire planning study and vision for Jefferson Barracks, we're told it will soon be posted on the following website: www.slcec.com.

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From The Suburban Journals
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
By Julie Randle
jrandle@yourjournal.com

Guardsman runs to pay tribute to death march survivors

 
Mike Cook, Sgt. 1st Class of the 1035th Support Maintenance Company in the Missouri Army National Guard, runs during physical training time at Jefferson Barracks.
 
   

When Mike Cook lived in Jefferson City, he would see Missouri Army National Guard soldiers in uniform around town. One day he became moved by the sight.

"I asked myself 'what have a I done for my country,'" he said. "I went to the recruiter's office and said, 'sign me up before I change my mind.'"

Twenty years later, Cook decided to commemorate his anniversary with the National Guard by taking part in an event that touches his heart, involves his passion for running and has military ties. He laced up his combat boots, donned military fatigues and ran in the Bataan Memorial Death March on March 29 on the grounds of White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

"This year was the 20th anniversary of the Bataan Memorial Death March and it is my 20th anniversary in the Missouri Army National Guard, so it meant more to me this year," said Cook, a Sgt. 1st Class in the 1035th Support Maintenance Company at Jefferson Barracks. "It was a big milestone for me."

The march commemorates the 78,000 American and Filipino prisoners who were forced in 1942 to endure a 65-mile march to a prison camp after the fall of the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. They did it with little food or water. Approximately 11,000 prisoners died on the march. Tens of thousands more died in Japanese prison camps.

Cook participated in the commemorative event in 1996, 1999, 2006 and 2009. Civilians, military personnel from all branches and international contestants participate in the event. This year, about 5,400 people ran the 26.2-mile course.

Cook ran as a member of an all-male, military light team. All five teammates laced up their boots and strapped on their uniforms, minus backpacks, for the run that took them past housing units on the base, through the desert, up a mountain and back down again.

Cook finished in five hours and 18 minutes. "For a 45-year-old, I think it's pretty good," Cook said.

The marathon length course of 26.2 miles is nothing in comparison to what prisoners of war experienced, Cook said. Along the route he shook hands with the youngest survivor of the real Bataan Death March, who is now 86.

"It sends shivers up your back," said Cook, who lives in Botanical Heights. "Knowing he endured all these things was worse than what we do training and running up a mountain. I told him I appreciated his service, I tell that to all of the (survivors.)"

Survivors are present each year at the memorial march and it's of one Cook's favorite experiences. One year, he met a survivor named John Mimms, who used to live in Missouri and now resides in North Carolina.

Mimms' son, Alan, a retired Missouri Army National Guardsman, introduced Cook to the event in 1996. Alan Mimms had put together a military light coed team and was one runner short. He learned through word of mouth that Cook was the right man for the job.

"At the time, I had never run more than 15 miles at one time," said Cook, who had three weeks notice before the event. "It was pretty rough that first year, because I never trained for it."

Cook survived. He lost almost all of his toenails and couldn't get his feet into shoes for two weeks because of blisters. This year, he lost one toenail.

Capt. Jamie Melchert, of 1035th Maintenance Support Company, spent time training in March with Cook and knows he loves to run. When the soldiers were given time off, Cook spent it running while others went to a movie or shopping.

Melchert admires Cook's ambition and dedication to training and competing in the memorial death march. When you run in boots and full uniform over desert terrain "you have to have your game face on even before you begin," Melchert said. "If he does something, he does it to the end."

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From the South County Times Online
Friday, March 6, 2009
by Fran Mannino

1905 Building Being Transformed Into Civil War
April 12, 2011 opening of museum at Jefferson Barracks to coincide with Civil War Anniversary

03/06/2009 - Overlooking the parade grounds at historic Jefferson Barracks in South County is the Post Exchange and Gymnasium Building, a beautiful federal-style structure that will one day house the not-for-profit Missouri Civil War Museum.

The building was built in 1905 for Army officers, and once contained a library, gymnasium, saunas, indoor pistol range and bowling alley. It was decommissioned after World War II, and sat empty for decades.

The structure has undergone a remarkable transformation from the crumbling, uninhabitable space it was just a few years ago to the structurally sound, updated building of today.

Museum Founder and Chairman Mark Trout and his volunteers have been working around the clock since 2002 to get the building habitable.

"We have two goals," said Trout. "Our first goal was to save the building. The second goal is to find a way to open on April 12, 2011, the 150th anniversary (marking the start) of the Civil War.

"We're not an organization of hard-core Civil War people," he said. "We started as an organization of three and have grown to an organization of 400. Without a doubt this is a true grassroots project, funded entirely by the generosity of people and businesses, with no government funding."

The most immediate challenge for the museum organization is trying to raise funds during one of the worst recessions to hit the country in decades.

"In reality we are a half-million dollars away from finishing this and opening it," said Trout.

The restoration budget for the 15,000-square-foot space is about $2 million. Funds raised to date have been pumped into massive improvements to shore up the decaying building.

"It's a big challenge," said Trout. "If you're a Civil War enthusiast or historian and want to get involved and do some good, we have 24 months left. We could really use your help."

New Life for an Aging Beauty

Trout is one of those rare individuals who can see past the neglect of the past to the potential of the future - even if it involves years of back-breaking labor and sacrifice in the process.

Trout, a resident of Wildwood, first spotted the decaying Post Exchange building in 2002 while on a visit to Jefferson Barracks.

"A couple of us talked about how it would be nice to see some sort of Civil War museum here," he said.

"Jefferson Barracks is without a doubt the most significant military historic site in the state," he said. "We felt the need to fill a void in this city that sent more soldiers into the Civil War than any other city west of the Mississippi."

Trout and company struck a deal with St. Louis County, which owns the building, for a 99-year lease at $1 a year. Trout's end of the bargain is to restore the structure to its former glory.

Trout's right-hand man is John Maurath, director of library services for the Missouri Civil War Museum organization. Maurath is a former Sunset Hills resident who now lives near Jefferson Barracks.

Trout and Maurath both quit their day jobs to work on the restoration, doing everything from shoveling tons of debris out of the building to laying floors.

The challenge for the group is a daunting one due to the extreme neglect the building suffered over the years, and the trying economic times.

"When we took this building over it had been out of service since 1946," said Trout. "There were gaping holes in the roof. There were raccoons and pigeons in here - we even had to chase a Mallard off the running track."

Volunteers working on the project range from high school students to senior citizens, even retired colonels and major generals.

Some of the group's older members said when the building was decommissioned, ads were placed in the newspapers encouraging people to come salvage what they could before it was torn down.

"The first thing they took was the slate roof," said Maurath. "Every time it rained the building filled with water. They took all the beautiful hardware, the chandeliers.

"We're restoring it to its original look so that if a World War I soldier walked in here today it would look the same as it did in his day."

The Post building at Jefferson Barracks has three "sister" buildings still in service in other states. Trout found the original blueprints for his building at one of the sister locations in Wyoming.

"Everything we do here is guided by the original blueprints," he said. "That's the gospel of the restoration."

Mahogany front doors are ready to be installed, but will remain in storage until all the major construction is completed to keep them from being damaged. In the meantime, plywood is doing double duty at the front entrance.

"People judge our progress by what they see boarded up on the outside," said Trout. "They have no idea what we're putting into the infrastructure."

Improvements include a new roof, a fire suppression system costing upwards of $100,000, and restoration and replacement of exterior soffits and fascia that were destroyed by years of water damage. Nearly every floor and wall in the building has been replaced.

Plastering is complete on much of the second floor of the building, which will house staff offices and a full kitchen for artifact cleaning and restoration.

Education and Enrichment

Trout stressed he is not a Civil War scholar, just a former police officer and Marine veteran with ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War conflict. He studied political science and history at Webster University, and has a great appreciation for historic preservation.

Maurath, who also has Civil War ancestors, said the true measure of success for the project will be how many yellow school buses full of kids pull up outside the new museum when it opens.

"The museum is geared to work with the outside curriculums of school districts," said Trout. "They'd come to the museum to learn about the Civil War, instead of limiting it to the classroom."

Maurath said they already have 2,000 books on the Civil War for the museum's library, and a host of other artifacts, stored for now in a climate-controlled environment off site.

Visitors to the completed museum will be able to learn about Missouri's involvement in the Civil War through interactive displays, exhibits and a library resource center.

"We've got blood, sweat and tears in this building," said Trout. "The museum is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In the end we're creating something tens of thousands of people will see."

Learn more about the Missouri Civil War Museum at www.mcwm.org. Volunteer and donation information is also available on the Web site, or by calling 845-1861.

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From the St. Louis Business Journal
Monday, August 4, 2008
by Kelsey Volkmann

K&S wins $24.8M state contract to build military center at Jefferson Barracks

K&S Associates has won a $24.8 million contract from the state of Missouri to build a new Joint Armed Forces Reserve Center at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis for the Missouri National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve.

The center will include 140,500 square feet of new training space, a three-story, 133,000-square-foot administration building and a one-story, 7,500-square-foot maintenance building.

The main building will feature administrative space, an assembly hall, classrooms, secure storage for ordnance, munitions and a full-service kitchen for 24/7 operations.

The project will be constructed with anti-terrorism protection features.

The new complex will include eight acres of lighted parking areas for military and personal vehicles.

The project is scheduled for completion in February 2010.

Ross & Baruzzini, of Webster Groves, is the project architect/engineer, teamed with David Mason & Associates, of St Louis, which will serve as structural engineer on the main building.

Engine House No. 1 Inc., of St. Louis, is historic preservation consultant for the project.

Hanson Professional Services Inc., of Springfield, Ill., is civil engineer for the project.

Jefferson Barracks, the oldest military installation west of the Mississippi River, is located south of St. Louis on the Mississippi riverbanks. It is now the site of a National Reserve Base, the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery and a U.S. Veterans Administration Hospital.

St. Louis-based K&S Associates Inc. performs full-service general contracting, manages complete design/build projects and provides construction management services for building projects in the commercial/industrial, healthcare, military support, government, education, recreational and ecclesiastical sectors.

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