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Don Corrigan tells the stories of ‘Amazing Webster Groves’

A seat in the shape of an apple
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
A seat in the shape of an apple sits on Tuesday at Gazebo Park in Webster Groves.

For more than four decades, Don Corrigan wrote the first draft of Webster Groves’ history as editor of the Webster-Kirkwood Times. Now he’s turned all the knowledge he gained from those stories into a book.

That book, Corrigan’s eighth, provides a close look at what some locals boast is “the Queen of the Suburbs.” “Amazing Webster Groves” weaves in local history, famous sons and daughters and such fascinating lore as the Lawn Chair Drill Team of Helfenstein Avenue, which deploys the humble lightweight chairs in an annual July Fourth ritual.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Corrigan shared his thoughts on the bucolic St. Louis County suburb, beginning with its occasional sobriquet “the Queen of the Suburbs.” Asked if Webster really deserves the title, Corrigan quipped: “The Queen of the Suburbs depends on what city I'm in. I'm in Kirkwood, I have to change my tune.”

After all, you don’t achieve longevity as editor of the Webster-Kirkwood Times by choosing one eponymous suburb over the other. Said Corrigan: “Webster and Kirkwood go after each other. It's good-natured, but they go after each other on things like that. Which one's the real Tree City USA?”

Corrigan shared that his favorite thing about Webster is Education Row, in which Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves High School, Webster University and Nerinx Hall all sit within a few hundred feet of each other. “They’re all beautiful buildings, they have history, and I love their mascots because their mascots are bizarre,” he said, citing Webster U’s Gorlok in particular.

A seat in the shape of an apple sits on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, at Webster Pharmacy in Webster Groves.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Don Corrigan’s “Amazing Webster Groves” sits on a counter on Tuesday at Webster Pharmacy in Webster Groves.

Corrigan also discussed the seminal CBS News documentary “16 in Webster Groves,” which portrayed the town’s young people as status-oriented and hypocritical. Controversy over the 1966 film, he said, “goes on forever. About three weeks ago, there was a class reunion from that very time, ‘66-67, and they're still sore about it.”

But did it get Webster Groves right? Corrigan said his answer is yes.

“I get a lot of pushback on that. But I don't think it's a bad thing for a town to be engaged in a little bit of self-analysis. And I think it had a big impact on them. And I think it was a positive impact.”

Corrigan also discussed Webster Groves’ attitude toward development and some of its famous sons and daughters. Callers from Webster Groves weighed in with their thoughts, too.

Listen to journalist Don Corrigan discuss ‘Amazing Webster Groves’ on St. Louis on the Air

Related Event
What: “Amazing Webster Groves” presentation and book signing
When: June 9
Where: Shepherd’s Center, 1320 W. Lockwood Ave. Webster Groves, MO 63122

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.