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Arthur - Stone Soul
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by Arthur Mehrhoff
My passion for cultivating places stems from some very deep roots. I was born and raised among the historic rowhouses of old north Saint Louis in the shadow of old Sportsmen’s Park with its resident hero Stan Musial. My father, Arthur W. Mehrhoff, used to drive our family around Saint Louis neighborhoods in our big, green 1955 Plymouth to view its historic architecture like the famous gated communities of the Central West End. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree, I guess. While I try not to live in the past, I know for certain that The Past still lives in me…
Over time those deep cultural roots have branched out in several directions. My Master’s degree in urban affairs at Washington University in Saint Louis focused on how we shape our physical communities. I subsequently drafted a successful National Register nomination for midtown Saint Louis during the Bicentennial year, conducted extensive research in the early Eighties on Saint Louis’ historic downtown buildings while coordinating the Downtown Element of the Comprehensive Plan, and a leadership role for fifteen years in the highly regarded Minnesota Design Team. All of these experiences culminated in my book Community Design: A Team Approach to Dynamic Community Systems (Sage Publications, 1999).
My doctoral research in American Studies at Saint Louis University back in the Eighties emphasized my enduring interest in material culture, especially how different cultures understand the phenomenon of place, dating way back to my childhood adventures. While working with the National Park Service at the Gateway Arch, I conducted extensive research in the Archives of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial for my doctoral dissertation and subsequent book The Gateway Arch: Fact & Symbol (Popular Press, 1992). I have also written a chapter on the buildings of Howard County for The Buildings of Missouri, (forthcoming) edited by distinguished MU Emeritus Professor Osmund Overby, and recently completed an anthology about Missouri’s special places entitled Coming Home Again: A Missouri Journal.
As my grandmother would often tell me (in a different context), you need to know your place. That’s as true today as when I first started learning my places, so I look forward to sharing a tip or two with you about what I’ve learned along the way.
To read more about Arthur visit http://faculty.missouri.edu/~ mehrhoffw/.