The Library of Congress

Originally, the Library of Congress wasn’t on my list of places to visit while we were in Washington D.C., but the moment we walked past it, I knew I would have to see the inside!

It really is like a cathedral for books. The architecture is impressive, and the artwork in the building is absolutely stunning. I thought the Central Library in St. Louis was a big deal (and it is), but this is just so much more!

The big attraction, though, is the overlook above the Reading Room. I’ve seen it in pictures and movies, but that is nothing like seeing it in person. And the glimpse through to even a small section of the shelves that house the books is overwhelming!

It’s such an amazing facility!

I’m really glad that we added this to our vacation “to-do” list at the last minute!

Lafayette Square

I already shared a few photos of our trip to the Lafayette Square neighborhood of St. Louis on my birthday; now I’m going to take a closer look at some of my favorite features of the area.

There are a few historic sites in the park, including a trio of cannons from a British warship which was sunk in the harbor of Charleston during the Revolutionary War. There is a also a bronze casting of a famous statue of George Washington…the only one for which he posed!

The park itself is beautiful…our favorite location was this little area by the Grotto Bridge:

We saw many beautiful flowers in the park, including one of my favorites, the hydrangea:

The park house, which was originally a police station, is also lovely:

The streets surrounding the park are filled with gorgeous homes, some of which still have mounting blocks out front!

And the Lafayette Square Fountain is just down the street!

This is definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods in St. Louis, and I’m looking forward to going back as the seasons change so I can capture more beautiful moments!

A Saturday Afternoon in Red Bud

Yesterday before Ryan got home from his trip, the children and I wanted to get out of the house, so we drove south to Red Bud, a town we’ve passed through a few times, but never really looked at.

It’s a charming town. We loved the architecture and all of the lovely local small businesses.

I’m going to have to see if there are any festivals or events we could attend in town…I’d love to see how they celebrate!

Chicago Cultural Center

I’m always trying to find new things to do when we visit Chicago, so when we were up there last month, I decided we should visit the Chicago Cultural Center, located at 78 East Washington Street (which is also the corner of Washington and North Michigan Avenue):

It was built in the late 1800s as the city’s central library. That fact is still rather obvious:

The architecture of the building is fantastic, but what it is probably most known for are the two stunning Tiffany glass domes:

There are so many other fantastic details, including mosaics, lamps, and beautiful quotes everywhere:

I’m so glad we finally had a chance to walk through this beautiful and historic building!

Wendella Lake and River Tour

The highlight of our day in downtown Chicago last month was the Wendella Lake and River Tour. I last took this boat ride when I was in the 5th grade, and I was excited to do it again as an adult, and share the experience with the Fab Five. We were not disappointed…we enjoyed the fantastic views of the city, both from the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, learned a bit about Chicago’s history and the architecture we saw, and enjoyed lovely lake breezes! We also had an amazing narrator along the way…he hit the perfect balance between facts about the city and personal stories to give context to those facts…I don’t think we’ll ever forget learning about the “Dime Piers!”

This was a fun trip, and gave us a chance to see the city in a completely new way. I highly recommend the tour if you’re ever in Chicago…just make sure you don’t forget the sunscreen!

Gingerbread Style

Another distinctive architectural style found in several neighborhoods around St. Louis is the “gingerbread style.” These houses are impossible to miss, with their steeply-pitched roofs and charming, fairy-tale appearance. The most impressive thing about these homes, however, is their uniqueness. For block after block, you can look at dozens of homes, and never find two that are exactly alike, from the stone and brickwork, to the placement of chimneys, to they types of glass in the windows. And as beautiful as these houses are right now at the very beginning of spring, they’re even more spectacular lit up for Christmas, just like a gingerbread village!

Lafayette Square

When you hear the term “Painted Ladies,” it’s likely that the first thing that comes to mind is that famous row of houses across from Alamo Square Park in San Francisco. St. Louis also has a neighborhood full of these beautiful and colorful Victorian style homes, centered around Lafayette Park, the oldest park in the city of St. Louis and west of the Mississippi River. Although much of Lafayette Square was destroyed by a tornado in 1896, the neighborhood retains its historic charm, and has recently experienced a burst of revitalization.

Missouri Pacific Building

The Missouri Pacific Building, located on 13th Street near the Central Library, is another beautiful old building in downtown St. Louis. Construction on the 22-story giant began in 1926 and was completed in 1928. As its name suggests, it was originally home to the now-defunct Missouri Pacific Railroad line. One of the most unusual features of the building is the use of “setbacks,” an architectural style popular in the 1920s and 30s.

There are many beautiful art deco and gothic details on the building.

It’s not just a broad building, but tall as well. You really get a sense of its height as you look up past the setbacks.

Did I mention the amazing details? Here you can see two railroad workers on either side of an engine, and an eagle, the symbol of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

The building has been renovated, and is now home to the Park Pacific Apartments, as well as a few restaurants. Hopefully, this means the building will continue to be a St. Louis landmark for many years to come!

The Record Exchange

Last week, I shared some pictures of the St. Louis Public Library Buder Branch. This week, I’m taking a look at the former home of that branch of the library, a mid-century modern building that now houses The Record Exchange.


This building, like the current Buder Branch, is located on Hampton Avenue. It was built in 1961, and it shows. I love the corner details on the roof:



There are tons of details on this building, including aluminum brackets and even funky lamps in the (very small) parking lot:


The details on the railings out front are amazing, but this one, which has square elements on a curved piece of railing, is my favorite:




This is another great little St. Louis treasure that I hope will be with us for a long time!