Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Gardener and the Bernoudy House

After a visit with local artist Juan William Chavez on St. Louis Avenue in the neighborhood of Old North St. Louis, I found myself in line at Crown Candy Kitchen with my friend Ann Bauer, her husband and son Nick (visiting from Washington DC). The restaurant, founded in 1913, is a Saint Louis landmark. Ann is a patron of the arts and shared stories of recent events at Powell Hall, the Sheldon Concert Hall and travels around the world.

Over sandwiches and a handmade malted milkshake (shared) the four of us were seated at a booth where we could take in the atmosphere. The conversation moved from families, to art and on to architecture. Ann talked about touring a home built by William Adair Bernoudy (1910-1988) an American architect born in St. Louis who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s. He is noted for the many modernist homes and public buildings he designed (mostly in the St. Louis area). Funny how people are connected by art, architecture and commerce.

“My former boss lived in a Bernoudy house,” I shared, remembering this fact about HBE CEO Fred Kummer’s home on Squires Lane.

“I’ve seen that home,” said Ann. She went on to tell me that the day she visited that house she engaged in a conversation with a woman gardening outside the home. Ann learned that the gardener owned the house and was an architect. Ann regretted what she blurted out next. “How can you as an architect afford a house like this?”Ann admitted she was embarrassed by the question, especially when she learned that the woman she met was June Kummer.

I promised Ann I would have to share that story with others. A case of mistaken identity and/or faux pas…nevertheless a completely innocent case of making incorrect assumptions. The Kummers have enough for that home and then some. (And incidentally, June is an active leader in garden clubs and the Kummers are generous contributors to the Missouri Botanical Gardens.)   

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