In his book Beer, Brats and Baseball (Second Edition) author Jim Merkel writes about “The Streets with Two Names” in St. Louis, sharing how Frank Knapstein, a German immigrant had his own name on a block long street just south of Meramec in 1916. He was a contractor and he was building brick homes along the street. Then, World War I came, and suddenly everything German was bad, including street names. To be less offensive, Knapstein Place became Providence Place. Nativism and anti-German hysteria had taken hold on everything
Merkel mounted a campaign to retake these symbols of our city’s pride in our German heritage. The German American Heritage Society of St. Louis helped by enthusiastically supporting the project and even paying for the honorary signs. On November 15, 2014 George Knapstein’s grandson Frank (and about 35 other members of his family) watched as Providence Place once again became Knapstein Place.
On Sunday, January 17, 2016 the public is invited to join Jim Merkel, members of German American Heritage Society of St. Louis, and other officials as they unveil two new street signs. The former Habsburger Avenue will be unveiled at 2pm with a brief ceremony at the corner of Cecil Place and Gravois Avenue; and Kaiser Street will once again take its place among St. Louis street names with a sign at the corner of Gresham (current name) and Kingshighway at 2:30 pm.
The Summer Bus Tour through Utopia sponsored by the St. Louis Stuttgart Sister Cities and the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis is next Sunday, July 12! It has something for everyone German! The tour heads out scenic Hwy 94 and covers German towns from Hamburg to Hermann – in Missouri! We will hear the stories of New Melle and Augusta and Schluersburg along the beautiful Missouri River and learn all of the history of how Missouri became so German. Everyone will receive their Travel Pass as they board – and become a famous German emigrant for the day! You have to listen because when your “name” comes up in history, you will share your story with everyone (don’t worry – I always provide notes!) and everyone will get in on the fun.
We will stop in the most famous and historic German place in Missouri (which some called Utopia) – the quaint little Dutzow – where Gottfried Duden wrote the book! There we will have beautiful photo opportunities, learn new things and have a delicious boxed lunch that is incredible. No body goes hungry. While we are there we will have a little wine, and a little music – and Gemütlichkeit. And then we are off, for more German touring of Washington Missouri and then on up to Hermann, where you will learn why Hermann is so German! We will tour the State Historic site Deutschheim, which is the ONLY State Park in the State of Missouri devoted to our German – ness! Isn’t that a shame?! We will tour through there and see so much more. Not a lot of walking, this site will be the most, but there are places where one can sit and relax too.
We wind our way back along the river – hear more German music and stories and return to the Interpretive Center. There you will see the sad story of how we lost so much of our German heritage for the sake of TNT in World War II. It is sad, but an essential piece to the whole story. But we will spend the day with our fellow German friends, and enjoy a beautiful day celebrating our German Heritage! Invite your friends – family – everyone – and everyone becomes German for the day! Share this email with everyone! We will finish at 4:30 and you will feel like you are leaving the homeland all over again!
You can either call 636-221-1524 or send an email to Missouri Germans
at firstname.lastname@example.org but it takes $40 for a seat to have your name on it! Don’t forget your camera!