Located just east of Hanley Road on Wydown Boulevard, in the Wydown Business District, Wydown Park is a unique urban space. Completely renovated in 2002, this park offers visitors a diversity of experiences. The brick column entry to the park is flanked by seasonal gardens welcoming visitors to an open patio area with cafe style tables and chairs. Patrons from Starbucks enjoy their morning coffee in the tranquil setting of the park. There is a winding sidewalk through the cozy half acre level parcel. The outside of the walk on the north and east is bordered by a stone wall garden containing a diversity of flowering shrubs, continual blooming perennials, flowering trees and annual flowers that are changed seasonally. Shrubs and trees that provide shade to the wrought iron benches that are placed to allow areas for conversation border the western side. The open grassy area in the center is a space for children to run and play. The park also contains the stone sculpture "Youth" by sculptor Todd Frahm. Vine-covered pergolas with benches are located at the northwest and southeast corners of the walkway. A number of flowering containers highlight the park with seasonal color.
Wydown Park History
Located on the north side of Wydown Boulevard near Hanley Road, Wydown Park is a beautiful urban oasis. Over a hundred years ago, Wydown Park was a pond on the large estate of R.E. Carr that could be seen from the Clayton 04 streetcar that ran along Wydown Boulevard until 1947.
The streetcar opened in 1895 when there was no Wydown Boulevard. The “dinky” as it was called, traveled from Washington University through forest and farmland to Clayton’s Central Business District. The road was built alongside the streetcar bed in the early 1900’s when the St. Louis Country Club, then located on the west side of Hanley Road, wanted access to St. Louis from the club. Homes and schools built up around the new artery, and the pond was drained in 1922 when renowned architect and city planner Henry Wright developed the Wydown Forest subdivision.
Perhaps due to drainage issues, nothing was ever built on the two vacant lots. In the 1970’s, Clayton used a third of one lot to create a small parking area, but the rest of the space remained empty, overseen by Clayton’s Department of Public Works. Known as “the lot”, the dirt and grass area with evergreen border was maintained by residents and used for a variety of purposes. Neighborhood children raked the leaves to clear space for kickball and baseball games. Jewish families trimmed the shrubbery to use branches as sckach for sukkot during the Jewish Harvest Festival. And Washington University beginner architecture students sketched designs of what they imagined for the space.
By the late 1980’s the City had begun treating the area as a park, and there was much discussion—and some controversy—about the kind of park it should be. Some residents of Wydown Forest wanted a park similar to DeMun, with play structures for small children. Others wanted a well-maintained open space for older children to have independence and play games. As no consensus was ever reached, the City made no drastic changes, but upgraded the space to include a fence, some permanent benches, and landscaping.
The “acorn park” nickname followed in 2003 when "Youth", a sculpture by Todd Frahm, was placed there during its most recent renovation. Designed with year round interest and recognized by the Missouri Botanical Garden for its participation in the Plants of Merit program, Wydown Park has become a gathering place for the surrounding neighborhood. Today, while visitors might see the occasional football or frisbee game, Wydown Park is a passive park best known now for its seasonal horticulture displays. Its features include a stately entrance, brick patio, wrought iron tables and chairs, benches, trellises, and flowering plants that cascade over a stone retaining wall.