DeMun Park, located at the corner of Southwood and DeMun, in the business district of the Demun Neighborhood is a neighborhood play area. There are 2 playgrounds available, one for children ages 2 to 5 and the other for 5 to 12 year olds. A decorative steel fence with a gate to keep the youngsters safe from traffic surrounds this 1/2-acre, level space. The winding walk around the central raised garden is a great path for little ones to ride their cycles. Benches provide an area for parents to talk while keeping an eye on their children. Large trees keep the park dappled in shade, while the colorful garden delights with seasonal interest.
DeMun Park is a popular site in the DeMun neighborhood, an apartment district developed in 1923 on land once owned by French fur trader Julius DeMun and his wife Isabelle Gratiot DeMun, the great-granddaughter of Pierre Laclede. The large tract deeded to the DeMun family by the King of Spain in pre-colonial days was ultimately divided, the eastern part sold under protest to the city of St. Louis for the establishment of Forest Park, the western part sold in 1921 to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to build Concordia Seminary, and the rest sold and subdivided for the creation of the neighborhood that bears their name.
The playground-style park on DeMun Avenue has been a favorite play spot in this densely populated locale for more than 40 years. It was 1965 when the former site of the DeMun Garage was leased to the City of Clayton for the purpose of creating a “Tot Lot” for the children of the DeMun community. At the time, the half-acre of land featured open space and playground structures, but there would be another ten years of controversy before the area would officially become a park.
In 1969, City administrators were under pressure to raise the living standards in the DeMun neighborhood comprised of single-family homes, multi-unit brownstones, and high-rise apartment buildings built in the 1920’s and 30’s. A vote in June 1971 by Clayton residents to raise the city sales tax by a half-cent brought nearly $300,000 in annual revenue to be used for capital improvements, including the acquisition of land for parks. But in the same election, the proposal to purchase and develop the 60,000 square-foot plot of land between Southwood and South Rosebury was defeated. The park had not been widely publicized nor officially listed among the City’s pending projects, and its proposal was linked to other more costly and speculative real estate ventures. Even those generally in favor of a DeMun Park felt that prior discussions of it had been vague and limited. In 1973 the City finally purchased the land, and another quarter-acre adjacent to it, for nearly $90,000. The three-quarter acre DeMun Park was dedicated in 1974.
Today DeMun Park has attractions for both toddlers and older children. Rated “Best Playground for Children” by the Riverfront Times, it boasts climbing structures, bucket and traditional swings, open green space, a sidewalk path, drinking fountain, and a central flower garden that attracts butterflies. Complimenting the neighborhood’s post-WWI brick and limestone architecture with its stately black rail fence and attractive landscape design, the park’s complete enclosure makes it a favorite of families with multiple children. For the convenience of parents and caregivers, there is free parking on both sides of the street and the grassy median that was once the DeMun streetcar track.
Because of its location in the eclectic DeMun neighborhood and its proximity to resident communities at Concordia Seminary, Washington University, and other districts like Hi-Pointe and Dogtown, DeMun Park attracts users of diverse backgrounds, many of whom also come to enjoy the area’s fashionable sidewalk eateries and shops.