Meacham Park: Past, Present & Future
Upon multiple requests, the Times is reprinting a 1986 article about the history of Meacham Park
March 21, 2008
After the shootings at Kirkwood City Hall on Feb. 7 by Meacham Park resident Charles "Cookie" Thornton, groups seeking to heal the wounds are asking for more dialogue to bridge any real or perceived racial divide.
At several forums by such groups as Community for Understanding and Healing (CFUH), residents have sought more historical background on the relationship between Kirkwood and Meacham Park, both before and after the neighborhood became part of the city in a 1991 annexation.
Kirkwood's Sue Perry expressed the need to know more at a CFUH meeting on March 8 at St. Louis Community College at Meramec.
"I want to find out more about Kirkwood and Meacham Park," said Perry. "I want to know how they can come together and understand each other."
That sentiment has been echoed in a number of requests to the Times. The inquiries have included requests that the Times reprint its 1986 four-part series on Meacham Park and its history. In order to comply with these requests, the Times will post the series on its local media Web site: timesnewspapers.com.
Among the disturbing accounts in the 1986 series are those describing the situation for Meacham school children before the 1954 Supreme Court decision on desegregation. Education opportunities were limited, and schooling beyond the elementary level meant bus rides into St. Louis, and only if a reluctant Kirkwood School District would pick up the tuition bill for the city schools.
Into the 1970s, Meacham Park suffered from poor police and fire protection. Even after the county came in with improvements in the early 1970s, the neighborhood still had basic infrastructure problems with sewers, road maintenance, housing stock and utility services.
The late Bill Jones, who published Meacham Park's radical paper, "In Our Opinion," in the 1960s, told the Times that Kirkwood seized the neighborhood's best commercial land along South Kirkwood Road in 1957. Even so, a skeptical Jones would later become a vocal advocate for a detailed plan for Kirkwood to annex Meacham Park in 1991. Both Kirkwood and Meacham Park voters approved the 1991 annexation plan.
The Webster-Kirkwood Times is pleased to offer the series: "Meacham Park: Past, Present & Future" on its Web site. The series is also available in hard copy to read on-site at the Kirkwood Public Library.