Have you ever gazed upon the St. Louis Civil Courts Building, standing tall and dignified, and wondered about the story it silently holds at its summit? This architectural masterpiece, born in the throes of the 1930s, is more than just a courthouse; it’s a canvas painted with history, artistry, and a touch of the extraordinary.
Intriguingly, the top third of the St. Louis Civil Courts Building is not just your typical rooftop. It’s a captivating blend of cultures and inspirations that beckons the curious minds of passersby. Inspired by the amalgamation of architectural elements from various corners of the world, it boasts a design that is nothing short of mesmerizing.
At its pinnacle, an intricate step pyramid sits atop a Greek Temple, crowned by a pair of majestic griffins, which seem to guard the secrets within. This unconventional combination seamlessly weaves together influences from Egyptian, Greek, and Oriental styles, creating a harmonious, yet enigmatic, structure that captures the imagination.
But what is the story behind this striking design? It turns out that the inspiration for this unique architectural wonder can be traced back to the tomb of King Mausolus, a provincial governor from the region of Halicarnassus, Turkey.
This ancient tomb, erected in 352 B.C., was hailed as one of the seven wonders of the world. Its original construction featured an impressive array of 40 colossal columns, standing tall in tribute to the departed monarch.
The top of the St. Louis Civil Courts Building mirrors this grandeur with its own array of 32 Ionic columns, each soaring to a height of 42 feet and boasting a diameter of 5 ½ feet. These columns pay homage to the historical opulence of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, bridging the gap between centuries and continents.
However, the pièce de résistance of this architectural masterpiece is undoubtedly the duo of griffins that stand sentinel at its zenith. Measuring an awe-inspiring 20 feet in length, 12 feet in width, and 12 feet in height, these mythical creatures are a sight to behold.
Griffins, with the body and tail of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle, and sometimes eagle’s talons as their front feet, have been revered throughout history for their majestic aura and power.
In the annals of classical antiquity, griffins were believed to guard treasures and priceless possessions, a symbol of strength and regality. Their presence atop the St. Louis Civil Courts Building adds an air of mystique to the structure, inviting contemplation of the hidden stories they might hold.
As for the original tomb of King Mausolus, the passage of time and the unpredictable forces of nature took their toll. Somewhere between the 11th and 15th centuries, an earthquake reduced the once-mighty tomb to rubble.
Yet, a replica of this ancient wonder still stands today at Miniatürk, a miniatures park nestled on the north-eastern shore of Golden Horn in Istanbul, keeping the memory of its grandeur alive.
So, next time you find yourself in the shadow of the St. Louis Civil Courts Building, take a moment to appreciate the intricate tapestry of history, art, and culture that graces its apex.
It’s a reminder that even in the heart of a bustling city, hidden gems of the past are waiting to be uncovered, if we only stop to look up and wonder.