Henry Shaw’s Legacy

Can you leave a legacy if you don’t have descendants?

Henry Shaw did. Have you heard of ‘Shaw’s Garden’ –  otherwise known as the Missouri Botanical Gardens – one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States?

Shaw built a successful trade in iron and steel implements during the very early days of the city of St. Louis, Missouri. He was born in Sheffield England in 1800. His family was in the iron and steelworks business, for which Sheffield was then famous. He was raised as an English gentleman, until his teen years when his father’s business suffered setbacks.

Helping his father, by coming to America in 1819 to trace a shipment which disappeared, Shaw showed his entrepreneurial ability by taking some of the reclaimed goods up the Mississippi River to St. Louis Missouri on the Maid of Orleans (a steam powered paddle wheel boat) and setting up shop there to trade. He made his fortune by the time he was 39, riding the rising tide of the St. Louis growth cycle while investing in real estate, agricultural commodities, mining and furs. Henry Shaw never married or had children.

Using his fortune, he built a country home – Tower Grove House. He developed botanical gardens on the acres around his home and bought up land in and around St. Louis. In 1859 he opened the Tower Grove House gardens to the public. In addition, he donated land adjoining it to the city to become Tower Grove Park and helped with the construction of the buildings and pavilions in it. He also gave the city money for a school, a hospital, and a school of Botany at Washington University.


Joseph M. Schuster in Garden, January-February 1983, the publication of The Garden Society, a Division of The New York Botanical Garden as re-printed on the Missouri Botanical Garden

website http://www.mobot.org/about/default.asp

Dictionary of Missouri Biography University of Missouri Press 1999 in an article “Henry Shaw, His Life and Legacies” by William B. Faherty

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Shaw_%28botanist%29

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