I have a couple of regular biking routes from my house in suburban St. Louis. One is Grant’s Trail, about a 20-mile round trip that takes me alongside Grant’s Farm (the Clydesdales!) and the Ulysses Grant home White Haven. The second is a longer ride – about 24 miles roundtrip – that goes almost due east and cuts across the suburbs of Glendale, Webster Groves and Shrewsbury until it reaches the city of St. Louis. I follow the River Des Peres Trail, connecting to the Christy Greenway, and then a bike lane that takes me almost to Broadway, paralleling the Mississippi River.
As I cross Interstate 55, I enter a section of the city known as Carondelet, one of the oldest parts of St. Louis. More than 150 years ago, German immigrants started settling in this area, which was already populated by small farms from French and early American settlers. The architecture in this area is generally red brick, Victorian, and middle and working class.
Every time I bike down Michigan Street in Carondelet, I pass this where Michigan intersects with Iron Street:
This is the old Des Peres School, built in 1873. It’s now the home of the Carondelet Historic Association, but it’s famous for something else. It was the site where a woman named Susan Blow went to work as a teacher, and opened the first successful kindergarten in the United States, also in 1873 when the school opened.
She was born in Carondelet in 1842 was sent to New Orleans for her education, and apparently fell in love with a man her family deemed unsuitable. She wasn’t allowed to marry him, and they found a replacement, which she turned down. President Grant appointed her father minister to Brazil in 1869, and she went with his as his secretary. She never married. She died in New York City in 1916.
You can read more about her at Wikipedia.
The top photograph was taken with my trusty smart phone; the bottom photograph is of Blow's actual kindergarten classroom at Des Peres School, courtesy University of Missouri-St. Louis.