NEWS11 Remembers: John Gunlack

(KPLR) – Many of the people who have contributed the most to St. Louis have their names on buildings and streets around town.

But some of the most important are the least remembered.

Paul Schankman has the story of one of them, in this week’s NEWS 11 remembers.

You won’t recognize his face and his name will probably mean nothing to you either.

But John Gunlack’s contributions to life in St. Louis still surround us in many ways.

He was a real do gooder, a real involved citizen, progressive, became very immersed in what was called the progressive movement which was in favor of government reform and in favor of parks in favor or advocating for better conditions for people living in tenements without adequate plumbing or water supply.

 Gundlach used his skills and resources to make the city a better place.

John Gundlack was born in blackjack in 1861 and with only a high school education, became a highly successful real estate developer, who used his money and power to make St. Louis a better place.

He is especially noted for taking a onetime local event and turning it into a tradition that survives today.

One of the outgrowths of the great pageant and masque back in 1914 was the creation of an amphitheater for Shakespearean productions, it was the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare and that amphitheater became the Muny.

So why is such a great man barely remembered?

Everybody gets forgotten, unless you are Abraham Lincoln or George Washington, you get forgotten.  Maybe they shouldn’t be because it does seem to me that the kind of engaged citizenship of a John Gunloch is a sorely needed model. The idea that wealth and success impose an obligation to somehow giveback is an idea that should never be lost.

While you’d be hard pressed to find John Gunlack’s name on any building in St. Louis; you can find out a lot more about him in one particular building, the Missouri History Museum library which houses a collection of his papers.
 
 At one time, John Gunlack was vice chairman of the Missouri Historical Society.

News 11 Remembers is brought to you by the Missouri History Museum and America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses.  I’m Paul Schankman.

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