Forest Park Forever, the City of St. Louis and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis Partner to Create New Chess Plaza in Forest Park

Four chess tables have been installed in a new plaza north of Steinberg Skating Rink; the area also now features a year-round restroom and drinking fountain, new bike racks and enhanced landscaping

Contact: Katy Peace:, 314.561.3290

ST. LOUIS, October 14, 2015 – Visitors to Forest Park have a new year-round gathering place just north of Steinberg Skating Rink: a new plaza featuring four concrete chess tables, bench seating, a newly opened year-round comfort station and year-round drinking fountains.

The new plaza and visitor amenities were funded by private gifts to Forest Park Forever, the nonprofit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to restore and maintain the Park. The chess tables were generously donated by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, headquartered nearby in the Central West End.

The tables were officially opened on Tuesday, October 14, at a ceremony attended by individuals from Forest Park Forever, the City of St. Louis, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Following remarks and a ribbon cutting, eight chess players, including two Grand Masters, played matches at the new tables.

“This new plaza is a terrific addition to Forest Park that many thousands of visitors will enjoy each year,” said Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E., Forest Park Forever President & Executive Director. “Visitors have told us they would not only like more year-round restrooms and drinking fountains along the recreational path, but also more recreational and gathering opportunities. We are grateful to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for donating the chess tables, which add a wonderful new element to the Forest Park experience.”

“We are proud to announce the launch of St. Louis’ second Chess Pocket Park,” said Tony Rich, Executive Director of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. “As the Chess Capital of the country, this addition will be yet another way for the community to engage in chess on a regular basis.

“Forest Park is known as a place where people from all over the region, and the world, come to participate in activities ranging from fishing and bird watching to tennis and paddle-boating,” said Greg Hayes, Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry for the City of St. Louis. “With these new chess tables and improved amenities, visitors will have another new way to enjoy Forest Park.”

Highlights of this Forest Park project:

  • Newly opened restroom had been closed for more than 20 years; this project re-commissioned it and made it operable year-round
  • Site now includes accessible year-round water fountains
  • The plaza was designed around two rows of existing cypress trees
  • Permeable pavers have replaced worn concrete, creating a surface that better sustains tree growth
  • Two Forest Park Forever Tribute Benches have been installed for spectators and players-in-waiting
  • Chess tables are made of a reinforced concrete and were sourced from a local company, Doty & Sons Concrete Products, Inc, based in Sycamore, Ill.
  • Players should bring their own chess pieces to the plaza (Forest Park Forever and the Chess Club are exploring options for on-site availability)
  • This area also hosts the Jacques Lipchitz’s sculpture Joie de Vivre, first installed in 1962
  • This single project advances three goals identified in the 1995 Forest Park Master Plan and a 2010 amenities study based on visitor input: more year-round restrooms and drinking fountains, an additional recreational opportunity and an enhanced visitor experience on the Park’s eastern side.

Comfort Station Improvements Extend Park-Wide

As originally announced in July 2014, Forest Park Forever and the City of St. Louis have been working to complete upgrades to a total of four Park comfort stations, making improvements and enabling the restrooms and drinking fountains to remain working throughout the winter season, rather than close mid-October.

In addition to the comfort station at this new plaza north of Steinberg Skating Rink, Forest Park Forever and the City have completed upgrades — such as enhanced landscaping, better path connections, new drinking fountains and heat for year-round operation — at restrooms located near the Hampton roundabout, at Picnic Site #8 along Wells Drive and near the Parks Administration building.

Seasonal Park restrooms traditionally close for four months starting in mid-October, but these will now remain open for visitor use. Forest Park Forever was able to secure several gifts for these completed restroom improvements, and for future additional amenities such as gathering plazas. These donations include a lead gift from Caleres.

About Forest Park Forever

Founded in 1986, Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit conservancy that works in partnership with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s greatest urban public parks.

Along with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever raised $100 million between 1995 and 2003 and dramatically restored many landmark destinations in Forest Park, including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box.

Today, Forest Park Forever maintains Forest Park with the City of St. Louis; raises funds for and helps manage capital restoration projects called for in the Forest Park Master Plan; delivers experiential educational opportunities to teachers, students and adults; and provides information and guides for the Park’s 13 million annual visitors. Not part of the Zoo-Museum Tax District, Forest Park Forever is supported by private donations from throughout the community, including its 7,000 members, 1,100 volunteers and many leading community and corporate partners.

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About the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to making chess an important part of our community. In addition to providing a forum for the community to play tournaments and casual games, the club also offers chess improvement classes, beginner lessons and special lectures.

Recognizing the cognitive and behavioral benefits of chess, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center is committed to supporting those chess programs that already exist in area schools while encouraging the development of new in-school and after-school programs. For more information, visit


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