Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tilles Park

Tilles Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks.  Placed into ordinance in 1957, it is located in the North Hampton neighborhood bordered by Hampton Avenue to the west, Flyer Avenue to the north, Regal Place (roughly) to the east and Marquette Avenue to the south.
This park is not to be confused with the Tilles Park in Ladue, MO (pop. 8,542).
Most probably know the familiar park sign with full landscape behind it visible from Hampton Avenue, one of the busiest streets in the city.
This rather large, 29 acre park is a staple of the surrounding areas.  In fact, there is a volunteer association established for the park.  It's called the Tilles Park Neighborhood Association and you can read all about their concerted efforts here.
Mission Statement: 
The mission of the Tilles Park Neighborhood Association is to create and maintain a strong cohesive and viable neighborhood around the area generally known as Tilles Park. 
Vision Statement: 
The Tilles Park Neighborhood Association Membership, Board and Community envision a future in which:
  1. neighbor’s communicate regularly and look out for one another.
  1. our neighborhood and park are clean and maintained.
  1. our neighborhood and park are safe for residents and visitors.
  1. the association is growing and evolving.

Values and Goals: 
The membership of the Tilles Park Neighborhood Association values:
  1. a safe neighborhood and park.
  1. communication between neighbors.
  1. clear communication with City service providers.
  1. quality neighborhood events.
  1. a clean and functional park.
  1. opportunities for volunteerism in our neighborhood.
  1. the unique architecture and identity of the neighborhood.
  1. new members and ideas.
Nice work TPNA!

Per the TPNA website, the history of the park is such:
Tilles Park was created in 1957 by the City of Saint Louis.  The $388,000 dollars necessary to purchase the 29-acres for the park was obtained by selling the original Tilles Park in Saint Louis County. Tilles Park in St. Louis City was extensively developed  as a result of a 1955 bond issue and a study that showed that the city needed more open park space for its citizens.
Thanks to a kind reader who shared her story with me about growing up this part of town, apparently the park used to be part of a potter's field.  Historian Esley Hamilton corroborated this in a July, 2007 entry in St. Louis Magazine:
Since the founding of St. Louis more than 200 years ago, many areas have been known as potter’s fields—burial grounds for unknown or unclaimed bodies. One was located at what is now Benton Park, says local historian Esley Hamilton. In the mid- to late 19th century, unclaimed bodies were taken to Koch Hospital Cemetery, a.k.a. Quarantine Cemetery. Koch Hospital was the designated place to treat those inflicted with yellow fever and smallpox, along with the wounded and sick from the Civil War. 
Perhaps the city’s last known potter’s field was located where the Hampton Gardens apartment complex and surrounding homes stand today, in the area bound by Hampton, Fyler, Scanlon and Sublette. It would have been the city’s newest potter’s field in the late 19th century, and the remains buried there are believed to have been moved to Mt. Lebanon Cemetery at Lindbergh and St. Charles Rock Road before Hampton Gardens was built in 1952.

The park's full original name is the Rosalie Tilles Memorial Park, in dedication to the mother of park founder Cap Tilles.

Cap Tilles (1865-1951) was a prominent local businessman.  

Tilles was co-founder and president of a St. Louis, Missouri based investment syndicate that dominated the US horse racing industry in the early 20th century. The media nicknamed the partnership "The Big Three" for their monopolization of the Midwestern and Southern tracks.

Tilles was also associated with the cigar, real estate, stock, and brokerage businesses. In particular, Tilles made a personal fortune in real estate, owning lucrative properties for development and sale along the famed Loop of Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis, Missouri. In later years, Tilles turned towards philanthropy, which among other charitable acts, initiated a sizable foundation for the education of poor children, as well as funding and developing three separate municipal parks that remain in use to this day. (source)
Andrew "Cap" Tilles

Tilles Park is all about nicely landscaped areas, clean spaces and outdoor physical activiites including playgrounds, a roller hockey rink, 3 soccer fields, a soccer kick board, 3 softball/baseball fields, a basketball/volleyball court, 2 racquetball courts, 3 tennis courts, picnic pavilion, an exercise station and walking path.
The best thing about the park is that nearly all the outdoor amenities were in use by respectful park goers.  The park has a safe feel and is highly trafficked.  And anyone with kids in the CYC leagues has certainly logged many hours in Tilles.

Congrats to the folks working hard to make this park as nice as it is today.


  1. Tilles Park is my neighborhood park and I love it. It's really well maintained and everyone seems pretty respectful of one another. I often walk my dog there and it's always a pleasure to visit. Thanks for giving STL some love!

  2. I'm pretty sure I was jogging by the guy taking pictures for this article! Tilles is a beautiful park to run or walk in because of the nice paths. There is also a nice sense of community with the diversity of activities and people out enjoying the weather.

  3. Anonymous, July 10, was I on a maroon Yamaha scooter? If yes, that was your's truly. Cheers-Mark

    1. Yes, I believe I noticed it was a Vino like my husband's - definitely lots of scooters zipping around South City : ). Nice article and photos!

  4. I also grew up across from the property that became the park. It used to be a clay mine and there were lots of pieces of broken sewer pipe. There were cottonwood trees and wildlife like quail and little long legged birds. There was a pond over by Fyler that people skated on in the winter. The photos show it has been much updated since I was last there.

  5. Can you please comment, if you know, about the connection between the two Tilles Parks? Are they named after the same person? I've lived my whole 42 years is S. STL. I've always pronounced the park in S city as Tilleys park (long e in second syllable), and the county park as TIllis (short e or i in second syllable). I don't know if that's really a distinction or just in my ear. Thanks.

  6. This is from the Andrew Tilles Wiki page. (link above)
    In 1932, Tilles donated a 68-acre parcel of land located in St. Louis County at Lay and Litzinger Roads to the City of St. Louis. The park was named in honor of Tilles' mother, Rosalie Peck Tilles.[12] The county park was developed in 1937 by the City of St. Louis and W.P.A. funds and was maintained by the city for 18 years. A study found that more than 80 per cent of the people who used the park lived in the county. Another study showed that the city needed more open park space for its citizens.

    In March 1955, the Mayor and the Comptroller were authorized to sell the Rosalie Tilles Park in the county. The proceeds from the sale of the county park were used to purchase 29 acres for the present Rosalie Tilles Park at Hampton and Fyler. This Park was extensively developed from the 1955 Bond Issue.[39] Hampton Gardens apartments, on the park's north side, were built in 1952 on the site of the former cemetery for indigent people. The area surrounding Tilles Park is part of the Northampton neighborhood, which is divided into two parts. East of Macklind is Kingshighway Hills and west of Macklind is the Tilles Park neighbood. The park serves as the heart of the neighborhood and the park benefits from the care provided by its residents. The Tilles Park Neighborhood Association plants and maintains the trees and garden in its park and the park committee schedules "work" days at the park. The "Taste of Tilles" raises funds to plant trees, shrubs and flowers in the park.