Jewel Box History

A brief history of the Jewel Box in Forest Park

The Jewel Box, located on a 17-acre site in Forest Park, was built by the City of St. Louis in 1936 and is operated by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. It is listed on the National Historic Register. The designation was given by the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior. The application was submitted by the Landmarks Association of St. Louis on behalf of the City of St. Louis Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. The Jewel Box was given the designation on the National Register because it is, "locally significant in the area of architecture. The Art Deco building is an outstanding example of greenhouse design."The Jewel Box was dedicated Nov. 14, 1936 and cost about $117,000, with about 45 percent coming from Public Works Administration (WPA) funds. It was designed by city engineer William C. E. Becker and Robert Paulus Construction Co. was the contractor.With its unconventional, cantilevered, vertical glass walls rising majestically 50 feet high, the Jewel Box opened in 1936 to national acclaim. The Post-Dispatch called the Art Deco-style structure, "the latest word in display greenhouses."Today it is an aged St. Louis treasure that has been restored to its former glory.

Jewel Box Renovation

The Jewel Box underwent a major renovation in 2002. This included removing all of the old plants and trees and reconfiguring the planting areas to the sides of the building, leaving the interior free. Gone are the trees that climbed to the top of the building, obscuring the light. Now the Jewel Box is flooded with sunlight that pours in through the top tiers of glass and illuminates the plants below.The interior area includes a large fountain and water feature that can be removed for weddings and other events. Large pots line both sides of the pond and baskets of plants hang from the ceiling.The renovation of the Jewel Box included replacing the mechanical systems, improving the floral display area and adding a catering area so the building can be rented for wedding receptions, corporate meetings and parties. There is a new heating and air conditioning system so it will be comfortable inside in the coldest and hottest weather.

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