St. Louis Hol­i­day His­toric House Tour

Thurs­day, Dec. 11 | 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Your chance to explore holiday traditions at the Camp­bell House, the Eugene Field House, the Chatillon-DeMenil House, the Samuel Cup­ples House, and the Old Courthouse

Get in the spirit of the hol­i­days in high style by vis­it­ing five of St. Louis’ finest his­toric homes and build­ings. For one night only, get the chance to expe­ri­ence the Camp­bell House Museum, Eugene Field House and St. Louis Toy Museum, Chatillon-DeMenil House, Samuel Cup­ples House at St. Louis Uni­ver­sity and the Old Cour­t­house, each decked out in their fes­tive fin­ery. Each stop along the way will fea­ture light hol­i­day refresh­ments and enter­tain­ment. Most loca­tions also have gift shops to help you with your hol­i­day shopping!

Par­tic­i­pants can tour the loca­tions on continuously-running char­ter buses that will shut­tle them from stop to stop or may opt to take a self-guided tour. To pur­chase tour tick­ets, call the Camp­bell House Museum at (314) 421‑0325 or click here to purchase tickets.

Guided Bus Trans­porta­tion tick­ets: $30.00 in advance, $40.00 the day of the event. Price includes admis­sion to all five loca­tions and bus trans­porta­tion.
Self-Guided tick­ets: $20.00 in advance, $30.00 the day of the event. Price includes admis­sion to all five locations.

**Inclement Weather Date: Dec. 17, 2014


Our Dia de los Muertos Altar

We spend a lot of time with our dead here at DeMenil. I don’t mean literally (although for those of you who are tantalized by stories of spirit encounters, we will be sharing ghost stories tomorrow). I mean that we spend time imagining the people who lived here, and telling different aspects of their history. In the city’s 250th year, we’ve been thinking a lot about the cultural drama that unfolds after the Louisiana Purchase, as the former French struggle to hold on to what they can of their language and way of life. How do they assimilate into the onrushing American tide, and how do they retain their own traditions? In fact, how does anyone manage to retain traditions when the world changes so fast?

This weekend at DeMenil we’re taking advantage of a great opportunity to reflect on these themes. For the first time, we are participating in Cherokee Street’s Dia de los Muertos celebration. For this festival, we and our neighbors are erecting altars to celebrate the lives and memories of those who have passed away. We get to use our altar to juxtapose the Victorian customs of mourning with a Mexican tradition of celebration.

altarcuThe very elaborate memorial traditions of the Victorians in St. Louis, the United States, and Europe focused on grief, and on the presence of physical remains and reminders. We’ve pulled out some of the memorial items from our collection to represent this solemnity.

Then we have the straight-ahead Mexican elements, including tissue flowers and paper cutouts of joyful skeletons making merry. It may be hard to imagine a guitar-playing smiling skeleton (for example) as a representation of Emilie Sophie Chouteau DeMenil, who never smiles in pictures. But we dare to imagine that Sophie did smile – she must have – and there was a place for joy and celebration in her life.

We’ve also mixed up the Victorian crafts and the Mexican ones – silhouettes of skulls, for example, juxtaposed with papel picado depicting fleur de lis. We’re remembering that ultimately, the house museum and the Dia de los Muertos altar have similar functions – to memorialize the past and to connect it to our everyday lives. This weekend reminds us of how good it is to do so with joy.

Our altar will be on view during museum hours this Friday and Saturday.  For more information about the weekend’s festivities, visit the Dia de los Muertos STL page on Facebook.


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