Monday, January 09, 2006

Woods-Smith Castle

Castles tend to be a pretty rare thing in Missouri, especially in the suburbs of South County. Most locals aren't even aware of the castle right around the corner from their house. This could be due to the fact that for years it has been located on the property of a fairly large corporation. I tend to get the feeling, and I'm not sure why, that they don't enjoy visitors. Ah well, I'm sure it's nothing. Matt and I explored the ruins of the little known Woods-Smith Castle a number of months ago, but it is interesting enough that I believe it deserves an after the fact post.


I had heard of Woods-Smith from an individual who only heard "a rumour" about it, and my subsequent research led me to a number of websites offering information about it. The short story is that a very wealthy man in the 30s wanted to build a mansion that rivaled that of the Busch family at Grant's Farm. The castle was his vision and work on it lasted for a few years, but was halted when he lost all of his money because of the Great Depression. The castle was never finished, and all that remains now are the stone walls and walkways that many recreational boaters have commented about on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.

So Matt and I set out to find it. I had a vague idea of where it was located, but no idea how to reach it. The coporation apparently didn't like company, but luckily we found a much easier way in. At first, I didn't know we had found it. For some reason, the fact that I had walked up onto a strange stone wall in the middle of hte woods didn't register with me.

"Is that it?" I asked Matt. Well, as we came to the edge of the wall, we could tell that, in fact, it was. I have to say, what the site lacks in size it make up for with beauty. Had Woods-Smith ever been finished, I can only imagine how breathtaking it would have been. Even now: incomplete, overgrown, and crumbling in places, it is a site to behold. We wandered around the various stone paths, exploring every wall and column. It is obvious that some of the fine stonework is missing. Local lore says that you can find pieces of the castle in various yards around South County. I don't doubt it. Time and the elements have been harshest to the single stone gazeebo, where the plaster roof is quickly crumbling away. Areas like the fountain and stone staircase are remarkable well preserved. As Matt and I began the walk back to our vehicle, we met an old man out enjoying the great weather. On a hunch, we asked him about the castle. He was aware of it, and told us about visiting it as a child. He also knew the story of the castle's first owner and his financial demise. I am very surprised and almost saddened that such a relic of our past has been completely overlooked by any kind of historical organization, and even the St. Louis park system. Why does this unused site remain the property of this coporation when it could very easily be incorporated into the nearby county park? It seems like such a waste to me. Could it just be that no one knows about this spot? I somehow find that hard to believe. It is my wish that some one will take notice of this treasure, or else the beauty of Woods-Smith Castle may only be beheld by those willing to go to great lengths and risk legal action. Not that those things bother me at all.



























4 Comments:

Blogger David Hirsh said...

Ok I am Dj Hirsh and have been living in Saint Louis for 26 years. As a teenager I heard all about it. Ever since then i have wanted to go. The other day i was walking in Bee tree park and saw a path and wanted to see where it led. After a while of walking I reached a eletric gate and a bif fence with barb wire and a sign that said "closed circuit televison". I right then and there knew that was it. And after several hours of satnding there hoping a security guard would come one did. I asked him if i could go in he said "NO THERE IS NOTHING BACK HERE NOW GO!!". Now after a couple of minuets i waited there and after he left i found a way on the back side and went in and it has been almost destroyed!!! I want to save it in some sort of way it's very sad to see such a beautiful building be destroyed like that. If you want to ask them why they never sell that tiny peice of land to the city or something like that call them at866.992.6619 thats the construction hot line maybe they will know. Good luck!!


always cool,
Dj Hirsh

Wrote 12/29/2012

2:28 PM  
Blogger David Hirsh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Kevin Kestner said...

I live very close by and I had no idea Woods-Smith Castle
even existed until I was looking at the area on Google Earth. I'll try to find it this weekend and if possible sneak in for a peek.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Kevin Kestner said...

I live very close by and I had no idea Woods-Smith Castle
even existed until I was looking at the area on Google Earth. I'll try to find it this weekend and if possible sneak in for a peek.

9:09 AM  

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