Still Chasing the Dream – Chase Park Plaza #150

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                                                                                         Cake #150 at the Chase Park Plaza

As I pulled up to the Chase Park Plaza to see the cake, it was hard to believe that it was in fact Cake #150 right there in front of me. While I knew then (and still recognize now writing about all of them), I still had a long way to go to get to my goal of seeing all the cakes, it felt good to hit a milestone like this one.

For some quick history: The Chase Hotel was built in 1922 by Chase Ullman. In 1929 Sam Koplar built the Park Plaza Hotel, and in 1947 the two hotels were merged to create the Chase Park Plaza.

Fun fact: Before the two hotels merged, there was an underground system of tunnels that connected one building to the other supposedly as an easy way for staff to travel from one building to the next, but there is evidence that rich patrons would use the tunnels to get from party to party and the tunnels were great places to hide booze during Prohibition…sneaky, sneaky!

Over the years, the Chase Park Plaza has been host to numerous entertainment events including a weekly wrestling tournament and the Miss. America Pageant in 1956. It’s also believed that every president from the 1920s to the 1980s stayed at the Chase at some point during their presidency.

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                                                                                                                Cake #150 at the Chase Park Plaza 

While the hotel closed for a short time in the late 80s and early 90s, it was reopened in 1999 and is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.

At the time Miles and I visited the Chase, it was merely a pretty sweet final destination for a cake hunting day well spent, but in the time since that adventure, the Chase has become a popular haunt for Mercutio Krispytreats and myself due to their $5 movie nights (oh yeah, they’ve got a movie theater inside!). There really is nothing like walking up the steps to the Chase and seeing the name of the movie you’re about to enjoy on the huge marquee out front….and then getting trapped in their revolving door (but that’s a story for another time). 🙂

 

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Cupcakes in the Street, Crystals, and a Crypt – Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis #149

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                                                                Cake #149 at the Cathedral Basilica

Do you ever just get a song stuck in your head like all day? I will admit that when thinking back on this cake adventure and coming up with a title for this blog post, the one song that kept replaying in my head was “Dancing in the Street” and so with a little twist to the title of the song, here we are 🙂

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                                                                  Cathedral Basilica

The original goal of this particular stop on our cake hunt was to see Cake #149 at the Cathedral Basilica (otherwise known as the New Cathedral), so let’s start there with a little history and mind-blowing facts.

The idea for this cathedral was hatched all the way back in the 1870s and ’80s, but it wasn’t until May 1st, 1907 that a ground breaking ceremony was had and construction started.

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                                                               Cake #149 at the Cathedral Basilica

By 1914 enough of the cathedral was completed to hold a dedication ceremony although the cathedral was not consecrated until 1926 (Catholic stuff, you know).

One of the most interesting features of the cathedral are the mosaics. Apparently the final tile of the final mosaic was not laid until 1988(!), and there are approximately 41.5 million pieces of glass around the cathedral creating the astonishing artwork and making the Cathedral Basilica home to the largest mosaic collection outside of Russia (source for that little tidbit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_Basilica_of_Saint_Louis_(St._Louis)).  And in the basement of the cathedral there is even a crypt where important and influential members of the Catholic Church in St. Louis are buried.

IMG_2777And while seeing the cathedral cake was the main goal of the day, it just so happened that while Miles and I were out and about enjoying the scenery and snapping pictures, a parade decided to go by on the street below (ok, it was the 4th of July and all, but can’t chance parades just sometimes happen and bring cake hunting well wishes?). And while admiring said parade, what do I see on one of the floats but a giant cupcake!!! Talk about right place at the right time – it felt like a sign of cake hunting happiness meant for just Miles and I 🙂 It was the perfect beginning to the end of the cake adventure for that day.

To The Nines – The Nine Network #148

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Cake #148 at the Nine Network

For more than a few reasons, the Nine Network holds a very special place in my heart, so for this post, I thought I’d run down a little list of 9 of those reasons (see what I did there?) mixed in with some history, so, ok, here we go!

  1. The first ever broadcast from the Nine Network in St. Louis was on September 20th, 1954 from the gym at Washington University. The first show they ever ran was a play about the importance of free thinking. The show was in black and white and set a precedent for the excellence to come.
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    Cake Monster helping a Big Bird out in the lobby of the Nine Network.

    One of the channel’s first areas of focus was on enriching children’s educational programming since, at the time, there was not a lot of that kind of television on air.

  3. The year 1971 saw the first color broadcasting on the network and with it the expansion of programming to more hours on more days.
  4. The mission statement of the founding members of the network really showed their commitment to local programming: “They believed that broad public education and a community forum for public dialogue would strengthen civic life in St. Louis” (http://www.ninenet.org/about/history/). I’d say mission accomplished!
  5. Starting even from the beginning, the station’s main source of revenue has been membership – definitely makes you think about just how many dedicated people there are around St. Louis helping to keep the station going!
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                                                                                                           Cake #148 at The Nine Network

    KETC stands for Educational Television Commission…with a K at the beginning for luck? Not too sure about that one even after some research.

  7. Several of the St. Louis based shows have been nominated for Emmys including Arts America, Night at the Symphony and…
  8. STAY TUNED! Which holds a very, very special place in this Cake Monster’s heart because in 2015 she was asked to be a part of the panel on the show that reflected on St. Louis in 2014. (If you’d like to watch a very nervous Cake Monster, you can here: https://www.pbs.org/video/stay-tuned-stl251/ ) 🙂
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                                                                                                            Cake #148 at the Nine Network

    And while not nearly as exciting as my television debut, Cake #148 at the Nine Network was also a special occasion because I was finally able to give up the struggle of getting Mr. Miles James to sit still and look at the camera in front of a cake while I fumbled around trying to not make too much of a scene because I discovered if I just popped him up on top of the cake we were visiting, he would look straight at me every time! *whew* And it only took me until I was a little more than halfway through my hunt to figure it out 🙂

 

And All That Jazz – Gaslight Square #147

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                                                                                                                Cake #147 at Gaslight Square

From Gaslight Theater to Gaslight Square, Miles and I pressed on with our tour of St. Louis historical sites. I’ll be honest and say that when I first saw the cake at Gaslight Square, I figured it had something to do with Laclede Gas and figured that it was nice of them to sponsor a cake and supply electricity (a kind thing to do, right?), but when I got home and really started researching what the location was all about, the real magic of cake hunting kicked in.

Gaslight Square (which is on the corner of Boyle and Olive downtown) used to be the place to be! From the 1950s to the 1960s, everybody who was anybody wanted to be seen hanging out in the area’s restaurants, shops, and cabarets. The name for the area was inspired by the gas lit lamps that were hung to light the way along the route and added to the atmosphere of old made new that attracted such a young and hip crowd – among them Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (two personal favs of mine) and Barbra Streisand (a personal fav of Mama Monster’s).

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                                                                                                               Cake #147 at Gaslight Square

Another interesting tidbit that I learned in my research was that when the area was at its height, a lot of local business owners decided to reuse unused church pews, chandeliers, stained glass and bathtubs to give the shops and restaurants an eclectic feel that reminded me a lot of the wonder that is the Venice Cafe.

Sadly the end of the 1960s saw the rapid decline of the area without much being done to replace its former glory until the 1990s when much of it was turned into residential communities.

 

 

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Cake #147 at Gaslight Square

A little light in the darkness, however, can be found at the location of the cake where there is a plaque with the names of some of the Square’s former residents and businesses and several columns in the style popular at the time meant to recapture some of the area’s magic and our imaginations.

School’s Out For Summer – University of Missouri St. Louis #140

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Cake #140 at the University of Missouri St. Louis

It really was quite poetic that for our last cake of the day at the University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL), the cake would happen to be atop a hill tall enough for us to pause and look out from into the world beyond…and then have the crushing fear that either myself or Miles was going to go over the edge of said hill even though that would probably have been next to impossible (*whew* can still feel those fear-of-heights-chills!).

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                                                                   Cake #140 at UMSL

For a little background, the University of Missouri is the oldest state university system west of the Mississippi (score another point for the MO!) with the campus in Columbia having been established in 1839. The UMSL campus location, however, was purchased by the Normandy School District from a Country Club in 1958. The school opened in 1960 with 215 students. Over the years, the school has expanded both in property obtained and enrollments with UMSL being the second largest of the University of Missouri’s campuses, the largest university in the St. Louis area with 16,000+ students, and the third largest in the state – not bad for pretty humble beginnings.

 

And not only was this cake and look out point particularly intriguing, but when the Regional Arts Commission did their RAC-O-Lantern Scavenger Hunt in October of 2014, one of the carved pumpkins was at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on UMSL’s campus. So now not only have I seen the outside of the buildings, but I have gotten to sample a little of the campus’ artistic offerings as well. I was even treated to a parade of little girls in princess dresses and their parents who were headed into the theater for an afternoon production around the same time I was there to see the pumpkin. I don’t remember what show was playing, but I do remember that even when the music started to begin the performance, the lobby of the theater was still ringing with excited little voices who were ready for a show but not at all ready to keep quiet about it.

 

And now to the cake! I mean, the details on this one are both stunning and, I admit, a little spooky, which is absolutely perfect for me. I remember seeing that the cake was decorated by UMSL Fine Arts Students which I think was an awesome idea and brought a lot of dimension to the cake. My two favorite pieces of the cake were the watercolor lady starting a blender…or just generally seeming sinister….seen in the picture on the right and the flying monkey with a knife-tail (or a tail-knife?) seen in the bottom left picture. Either way, the uniqueness of this cake and its images was a memorable way to end a cake hunting adventure with Mr. Miles James.

Miles Conducts a Tour – Ferguson Station Depot #139

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Cake #138 at the Ferguson Station Depot

From Florissant to Ferguson, Miles James and I were hot on the trail of Cake #139 at the Ferguson Station Depot. The history of this location dates back to the 1850s when William B. Ferguson (sound familiar…?) decided to allow the Wabash Railroad to utilize some of his land under the conditions that the area would become a depot as well as a regular stop on the railroad’s line. As more traffic was brought to the depot as a result of this deal, the area developed, and in 1894, Ferguson became a real incorporated city.

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                                                               Cake #138 at the Ferguson Station Depot

The Station Depot itself was thought to have been built sometime between 1879 and 1885 and is the last surviving example in Missouri of a standard station design that was popular at the time in the Midwest. The Station Depot was an important hub for city activity with a train engine whistle even serving as the community fire alarm. Passenger service at the Depot stopped in 1960, but in the 1990s there was a movement to preserve the location for history and posterity.

The Ferguson Station Depot was our second train station stop on our cake hunting tour, but Miles James, for one, certainly took advantage of his time admiring this locale.

From the little waterfall near the cake, IMG_2686

to the steps of the station leading to a rail car, IMG_2688

Miles James was a big fan of this adventure. And as our cake hunting for the day was winding down, it was nice to spend some extra time exploring a cake location with my curious companion before moving on to the final cake of the day.

 

Taille de No…Way This Place Is Haunted?! – Taille de Noyer #138

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IMG_2679It can happen at any place, at any time – the dreaded cake-venture gone awry. In this case, the ‘awry’ part was due to the fact that the next cake on my list for the day was at Taille de Noyer, which until that point was a place I had never heard of, and which I wasn’t even sure was an actual place (and not a statue or shrine, etc), and which is in fact located on the grounds of McClure High, and which made it all the more difficult to find.

IMG_2677At this point in my cake life, I was used to driving around and around to find what I was looking for, but with this cake in particular, I remember my trusty GPS telling me to be brave and go onto the school grounds, even though I was realllllyyy hesitant to do so, since I had already looked everywhere else, and thankfully I eventually listened because I was pretty greatly rewarded.

Taille de Noyer, as I discovered, is a beautiful building full of history. The oldest section of the home is thought to date back to 1790 when it was used as a trading post. The most notable time in its history, however, was when it was owned by St. Louis’ first millionaire John Mullanphy, who purchased what was then a log cabin in 1805. John was a philanthropist and built the first hospital west of the Mississippi.

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Cake #138 at Taille de Noyer

The cabin John purchased was eventually passed to his daughter and her husband and down through the family, expanding with each generation. It stayed in the family until the 1960s when it was purchased for the purpose of expanding McClure High. However when demolition began on different areas of the home, the Florissant Historical Society stepped in and began renovations and restorations of the home. The Historical Society now calls Taille de Noyer home and opens it to the public for tours and other celebrations.

The history of cake locations is always fascinating to learn after I have completed my cake-venture, but what made this location even more special for me was learning afterwards that it is considered by some to be one of the most haunted places in the St. Louis area joining the ranks of the Lemp Mansion, the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion and the Payne Gentry House as far as haunted cake locations go. Disembodied voices have been heard in the house as well as figures being seen in the windows of the mansion. And with that discovery, Taille de Noyer cemented its place in not only haunted St. Louis lore but in my heart as well.