Monumentale Cemetery

 

 


An 1890s Love Affair

 

In the late 1890s, when the great houses of Portland Place and Westmoreland Place were being built, Herman Luyties, owner of the first proprietary drug business in St. Louis, traveled to Italy on a pleasure trip. The Grand Tour was very popular during Victorian times. He fell in love with a beautiful Italian girl, the model of a sculptor from the Genoa area, Giulio Monteverde. Monteverde used the model to sculpt the angel above that is located in Monumental Cemetery in Milan Italy. This angel by Monteverde can be found all over the world. 

Herman proposed, but she declined. What exactly he proposed, we can only imagine. After all, there was already a Mrs. Luyties at the time.

Luyties commissioned Monteverde to render an eight foot statue to capture her beauty, carved in marble but without the angel wings. Chances are Herman came directly home after placing the order, because the statue has details he wasn`t expecting. But we`re jumping the gun here. All this is hearsay, but juicy, isn`t it?

When the statue was completed, she was shipped to St. Louis, to be placed in the foyer of the Luyties home at #39 Portland Place. Her several tons didn`t sit well in the foyer (not to mention the strain it must have put on the wife). In time Herman was forced to find a new location for her. He chose the family burial plot in Bellefontaine Cemetery (section 299, corner of Memorial Avenue and Hawthorn Avenue).

As one might imagine, this only partially solved the problem. I`m not one to tell tales, especially when I have only juicy bits, but the gossip between the lines is pretty hot for 1900. The cemetery workers are quick to point out her slightly rounded belly, and they love to speculate about her.

Soon pollution and the weather began to deteriorate the marble. This was the industrial revolution in the city of St. Louis, after all. The cemetery sits above Broadway, and overlooks Hall Street. Herman had her enclosed in a granite shadow box with a glass face. [By the way, I don`t believe Mr. Luyties would have called her Bessie. That name is said to have originated with the cemetery workers, way back around the time she arrived in Bellefontaine.

"In the 1840's, Herman Luyties, MD, opened a small homeopathic practice in downtown St. Louis. Soon after, doctors moving west began pressing him for homeopathic kits and supplies since he was the first local resource west of the Mississippi River. As the demand increased, he moved his office to the back and in 1853 officially opened a small homeopathic pharmacy.

When the Homeopathic Medical College of Missouri was established in St. Louis in 1857, Luyties Pharmacal Company became the primary resource for homeopathy across the country. Dr. Luyties worked diligently on formulating combination tablets for specific ailments which would make it easier for his patients to care for their own self-treatable conditions, especially for patients traveling or living too far out for him to reach them quickly."  http://www.1800homeopathy.com/company.shtml

The family plot is a big one, a corner lot with a view and space for sixteen or more. Herman is there alone. He died in 1921 at age 50, and is buried at Bessie`s feet. "Bessie, the girl in the shadow box" as she is known to the cemetery attendants, maintains the eternal vigil. The wife and the rest of the family have a cosy little spot of their own, across the road and down the block a ways. http://www.angelicimages.com/BessieStory.html

 

 

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