Monthly Neighborhood Feature: Meet Me In…Grand Center

(photo courtesy of Grand Center, Inc.)

Springtime in St. Louis entices one to explore and enjoy what our fair city has to offer. And in the Grand Center Arts District, there’s a plethora of activities that will keep everyone engaged and entertained, day or night.True to its catchphrase,“The Intersection of Art and Life,” Grand Center is bustling and vibrant, hosting more than 1,500 cultural events that attract 2 million visitors every year. Once upon a time—in the early 1900s, to be exact—the area had already established itself as an

entertainment destination. The magnificent landmark that is now Powell Hall was St.

(photo courtesy of The Fabulous Fox)

Louis’ largest theater when it was built in 1925 by William Fox, who went on to build the Fox Theatre on the other side of Grand Boulevard. The Fox Theatre’s opening night in 1929 featured the film,“Street Angel,” for 50 cents a person.But as residents began to move away from the city, interest in Grand Center dwindled and it fell into decline by the 1960s. A few years later, redemption came in the form of the St. Louis Symphony when it made Powell Hall its home in 1966, breathing new life into the area. In 1982, following a $2-million restoration, the Fox Theatre reopened, giving the go-ahead for Grand Center to complete its rebirth, and once again infuse art and life into a destination destined for that very purpose.

(photo by Scott Ferguson)

The month of May kicks off with an only-in-St. Louis experience: the Tennessee
Williams Festival, a five-day celebration of the works of the city’s native son. In the mood for something out of the ordinary? Head on over to the Third Baptist Church next, where a Friday Pipes Organ Concert is held throughout the month of May. The church’s 72-rank Kilgen-Möllerpipe organ—one of the largest in St. Louis—is showcased by a different artist every week. Each half-hour concert is free and is followed by a reception. Another must to add to your TGIF agenda is the aptly called First Fridays in Grand Center, during which all galleries and museums in the district are free until 9 p.m. Visit grandcenter.org to learn more about Grand Center Inc.,
which was founded in 1982 to support the district and the 45-plus arts organizations residing within its boundaries.

(photo courtesy of Grand Center, Inc.)

GOINGS ON IN GRAND CENTER
May 12 to 28
A Human Being Died that Night
Upstream Theater’s production of the Nicolas Wright play is based on the be
stseller by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela about a South African government death s
quad where dozens of anti-apartheid activists were tortured and murdered.
For a complete list of events, visit grandcenter.org/events
IN AND AROUND GRAND CENTER
Curtain Call Lounge
St. Louis’ first champagne bar is the perfect destination before or after a show at the Fabulous Fox. Think Gatsby meets Casablanca at this exquisite night spot next door to the theater, and be wowed by its fine array of bubbly by the flute or bottle, as well as wine, craft beer, cocktails and small plates like St. Louis Shrimp and made-from-scratch pizzettes. A grand place to celebrate in style!
Triumph Grill
Don’t let the motorcycle-themed décor distract you from all the deliciousness this establishment has consistently offered. An ideal place for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Triumph menu boasts “Kick Starters” like Thruxton Wings, and “Full Throttle”entrees such as Cherry Smoked Duck Breast and Shrimp & Grits.
International Photography Hall of Fame
A fairly new addition to Grand Center, the Hall of Fame and Museum has 6,000-square feet of gallery and exhibition space. Currently on display through May 8 is “Nicolas Orzio’s Occupied Japan,” a chronicle of the U.S. occupation of Japan during World War II through the eyes of Orzio, who was sent on assignment as a 19-year-old photographer.
Sweetie Pie’s The Upper Crust
Thanks to a reality show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Miss Robbie’s soul food has attracted visitors near and far. Sweetie Pie’s The Upper Crust location, one block north of Grandel Square, features irresistible daily specials like short ribs, meat loaf and whole catfish. And don’t forget the sides: fried corn, candied yams, black eyed peas, collard greens—you name it! Room for dessert? Try the Peach Cobbler or Banana Pudding.