Children's Library May Find Home At Paraclete Fathers

Part of this building on the property once belonging to the Paraclete Fathers, on a bluff overlooking the Meramec River, may be renovated into a children's library. Times file photo (click for larger version)
02/24/2012 - Al Moore's vision for a beautiful piece of property he owns in Sunset Hills could move a step closer to reality should an area arts organization and the planning and zoning commission see eye to eye.

Jeanne Johnston, founder of the St. Louis Children's Illustrated Art Museum, is seeking a conditional use permit to operate a library at 13270 Maple Drive. The property, high on the bluffs overlooking the Meramec River, is better known as the Paraclete Fathers retreat. It was originally built to serve as a carriage house for the Griesedieck brewing family.

The petition had been on planning and zoning's February agenda but was moved to its April meeting. The property is zoned residential.

"Our board is still meeting regarding the footprint of the building. The concept has changed a bit to fit the zoning of the property, it will be a library, not a museum," Johnston said.

It has yet to be determined how much of the property's square footage is going to be taken up by the library.

The Children's Illustrated Art Museum pulled up stakes at the failing Crestwood Court mall where it opened in 2009. Near the end of last year, the organization placed a photo of the Paracletes property on its Facebook page, identifying it as its new location and asking friends and supporters to help with the move and set up.

Johnston has kept the proposed relocation low key, saying, "We don't want to create expectations until we're sure of just what we're going to do."

"Everything we do is about education. We will be expanding on what we've done in the past, it's about books though we plan to still display original art," said Johnston.

Johnston and her board have set up an open house for residents of the immediate area for sometime before the planning and zoning meeting.

Al Moore, who purchased the property in January 2010 to preserve it for posterity, said shortly after taking possession he would like to see the Paracletes retreat become the city's first public library.

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