Posts Tagged ‘Laclede’s Landing’

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Jacques Clamorgan/Clamorgan Alley

February 10, 2010

Soon after reading about Alleys on STLDotage a couple of weeks ago, I took a walk around Laclede’s Landing and stumbled upon Clamorgan’s alley (one of the most popular locations to photograph the arch).

Clamorgan Alley

Then, on the website of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in an online exhibit called 1804, I found the origins of Claymorgan Alley.   Apparently, the name of this alley is one of the last references to pre-United States St. Louis that we still have in the city.  Jacques Phillippe Clamorgan (1734 – 1814) was a Haitian Refugee (leaving Haiti along with the founder of Chicago Jean Baptist DuSable) who became a wealthy fur trader in St. Louis in the late 18th century under Spanish Rule.

He was part of St. Louis’ “Colored Aristocracy” (a phrase possibly coined by one of his own children Cyprian Clamorgan).  In 1804 he owned an entire block of Laclede’s landing and had “several houses, structures, barns and outbuildings on this block” including a “small stone house [that] was built in 1800 by Jacques Clamorgan and used by his children.  Clamorgan’s children all had slave mothers.”   Jacques Clamorgan has an interesting story involving one of his mistresses, Esther.  The story says that before taking on a risky business venture (The Missouri Trading Company, an attempt to add to what was already a monopoly Clamorgan held on trading with area natives), he freed his current slave mistress Esther so that she could shield some of his assets from a potential bankruptcy.  The business was in fact a failure, but Esther had invested herself in the property and refused to give it up.  Lawsuits ensued over this for years, even after the death of Jacques Clamorgan.

More on Multicultural St. Louis can be read here.  My favorite fact outside of the Clamorgan history is that after Missouri was admitted to the Union as a Slave state (preventing black people from receiving an education), “an ingenious minister, the Rev. John Berry Meachum, established the Freedom School aboard a steamboat anchored in free territory in the middle of the Mississippi River.

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President Casino Closure

January 27, 2010

I am torn over the current attempt to close the President Casino, which I first read about on VanishingSTL.  I was quite happy to hear that the Admiral was going to be repaired a few months ago, because even though I have never been on the boat, I have read and heard about wonderful times St. Louisans have enjoyed there.  At the same time, consistent with the history of gambling, Pinnacle Entertainment seems to have had interests other than ours in mind when it promised to repair the admiral.  Their CEO Daniel Lee was quoted (from this November) in today’s Business Journal’s Latest News saying:

“We’ve basically kept (the President Casino) open just because we didn’t want to lose the license” and that “we’re looking at reducing hours, reducing the marketing, reducing the food service options and so on because frankly we make more money if the person is in Lumiere Place. We may have kept the heat on but we are going to have this thing running in slow mode … There is no reason to operate two casinos next to each other where one is brand new and beautiful and the other is not.”

They really just wanted the gaming licence, and their willingness to do anything to keep it does warrant its removal in my opinion.  I think that a better option than closing the President might be a forced sale of the casino to someone willing to compete against Lumière Place’s newness, with history.  Maybe the city could even run it as a casino/museum.  Hey Mayor Slay, we can win after all.  I’ll run the casino for you!  I have management experience!