ST. LOUIS (AP) — Crews restoring a St. Louis building that predates the Civil War never expected someone to be peering back at them when they knocked out part of a dropped plaster ceiling.
Two portraits of historic men were found on a ceiling in the Missouri Botanical Garden’s 7,000-square-foot “museum building,” which was built in 1859 and has been closed to the public for more than three decades, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2n1jqHw ) reported.
One of the portraits is of German-American botanist George Engelmann, a 19th-century friend of legendary St. Louis businessman and philanthropist Henry Shaw, who created the local botanical garden. Another portrait is of Carl Linnaeus, an 18th-century Swedish researcher known as the father of the system of classifying and naming organisms. Linnaeus is the namesake of the garden’s brick Linnean House, the oldest continually open public greenhouse west of the Mississippi River.
Workers also found what they believe is a third ceiling portrait that has since crumbled away. Conservators will take a look at that.
“It isn’t every day you find such things,” Peter Wyse Jackson, the garden’s president who surmises Shaw had the portraits painted after Engelmann died in 1884.
Since arriving at the garden in 2010, Wyse Jackson has helped raise the $3 million needed to restore the building and add a small addition, which will include bathrooms, a stairwell, and an elevator.
Officials hope to have the building open to the public late this year or early next year and will use it for special exhibits and events.
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch