Tower Grove Night - Garden Glow

Holidays in Tower Grove

Thursday December 18, 2014

By Explore St. Louis Guest

Follow the lighted garden path during the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Holiday Garden Glow and it will bring you to Henry’s house. That is Henry Shaw; the garden’s founder who built his county home within his garden, which each holiday season is draped in garland and aglow in candlelight.

“Tower Grove is decorated for a typical Christmas celebration Henry Shaw would have witnessed,” said Tower Grove House Historian Tyler Nowell who explained how the old house is decorated each holiday season with the help of the Southwoods Garden Club and he St. Louis Herb Society.

Tower Grove, an Italianate style mansion, was designed by renowned 19th century architect George Barnett and was completed in 1851. An impressive mansion, which   compared to Shaw’s wealthy friends could be considered modest yet still elegant.

Composed of two wings, Tower Grove’s west wing and observation tower has been restored to interpret the time when is Henry Shaw was in residence, The east wing was extensively remolded after Shaw’s death to accommodate Garden offices and classrooms. It wasn’t until 1953 that the house was opened to the public as a history house museum.

During 2002 – 2005 Tower Grove’s west wing was completely restored, reflecting its appearance at the time of Shaw. An appearance that lends itself nicely to Victorian Christmas decorations, especially those displayed in the front parlor and adjoining dining room.

“ People come back year after year to see the holiday decorations and festive table settings,” said Nowell.

After touring Tower Grove House I asked Nowell if he thought Henry Shaw would approve of the Garden’s holiday displays. Nowell smiled and said. “ I think he would be intrigued with the usual holiday use of his house and Gardens.”

Tower Grove House will remain dressed for the holidays until January 4, 2015 and is included in the general admission to the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Tower Grove House is also included in the Garden Glow, a separately ticketed holiday event, which is on display until January 3. For more information click on

Guest Blogger Suzanne Corbett contributed to this blog.