The Grant’s Farm “Preliminary Boundary Adjustment Evaluation and Reconnaissance Study” has been released as a pdf. It’s not a light read at 47 pages long, but contains valuable insight to a favorite St. Louis attraction if you’re into local history. Click the link above to read it yourself–the tram tour leaves out some interesting bits of history covered here.
But let’s get to the point, shall we? The study was done by the National Park Service to see if Grant’s Farm could be converted into a National Park. Note that this is a “preliminary” study, and if they get the green light, it’s only to study it some more.
Nutshell: Grant’s Farm doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.
A team from the NPS paid a visit on Feb. 4, 2010 (during the off season). They were accompanied by Busch family members (Adolphus A. Busch IV in the lead), staff from the next door Grant historic site, the Superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (that’s the Arch), the Director of Special Services for Anheuser-Busch InBev Inc, and representatives from the offices of Senators Bond and McCaskill, and for Representatives Akin and Carnahan. Quite a party.
So what did they find?
It would seem the NPS is interested in Hardscrabble (Grant’s cabin) and the remains of Wish-ton-Wish, a house that Grant lived in but burned to the ground. The NPS thinks Wish-Ton-Wish has archaeological value. Never heard of Wish-ton-Wish on the tram tour? Well it’s buried somewhere behind the Barbary sheep’s big red rocks.
The bad news (for St. Louis families) is that the NPS would like to have these two sites as an addition to the current Grant historical site. The good news is that the Busch family doesn’t seem interested in chopping up the property.
Also, the study says that Grant’s Farm would not make a good addition to the Grant historical site because it is mostly Busch family history. They admit that the Busch family history is interesting, and worth protecting, but it would overwhelm the story of President Grant.
Other points the NPS doesn’t like about Grant’s Farm:
- They don’t run zoos, and Grant’s Farm has 400 animals.
- It employs way too many people, and they don’t have the funds for such a big project.
- Making it a National Park would take away tax dollars from St. Louis County.
- It’s too expensive–the Busch family are talking about selling it, not donating, and it would include the Big House and all it’s art.
Other notes from the study find that the NPS feels the property is well managed as it is, well preserved and with excellent public accessibility. Unfortunately they also said the future of Grant’s Farm is difficult to foresee, as it is owned by a Busch family trust, but leased and operated by the brewery. The agreement could be terminated at any time, by either side, with proper written notice.
So, there’s no clear answer here. On the one hand, the NPS doesn’t really want all of Grant’s Farm. But could they be convinced otherwise? Would you still want to visit a stripped down Grant’s Farm that was all museum and no animal? Would a tour of the Big House replace a romp through the goat pen and a frosty brew? I don’t think so.