Kevin KilleenBy Kevin Killeen

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A mural of the St. Louis riverfront retrieved from a forgotten storage closet at Union Station is raising questions about the Steamboat era social order it depicts.

Workers had to saw through the wall of a storage closet to get out the 7-foot tall, 28-foot wide, three-panel mural. The 1942 painting by artist Louis Grell shows the steamboat “Dixie” landing on the St. Louis riverfront with a crowd out to greet the boat, and a steam locomotive puffing away beneath the Eads bridge.

The mural also features a prominently rendered group of African Americans laborers lifting boxes and blocks of ice, while well-to-do white passengers disembark in their fine clothing.

Photo: Kevin Killeen/KMOX

Photo: Kevin Killeen/KMOX


Johnathan Kodner, an art expert with the Kodner Gallery, says the painting is a realistic interpretation of the way life was at that time.

“That was the reality of life on the levee at the turn of the century,” he says.

The mural also depicts a few white laborers, less prominently rendered off to the side.

Union Station plans to display the mural as part of its ongoing renovation.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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