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Preserving St. Peters’ past – one story at a time

The St. Peters Historical Focus Committee, a new sub-committee within the Parks Advisory Board, is determined to preserve St. Peters history for generations to come. 

St. Peters’ original city hall (Source: St. Peters Historical Focus Committee)
St. Peters’ original city hall (Source: St. Peters Historical Focus Committee)

The group is dedicated to collecting, researching and interpreting historical information and items, so that future generations will have the invaluable documentation and artifacts for education, research, personal interest – and just for fun.

The committee is made up of St. Peters aldermen and community members. While the focus is on St. Peters history, participation isn’t restricted to St. Peters residents. Anyone is welcome to join. 

The committee was formed in September 2020. When possible, the group meets once every two months, and then sets up special work sessions as necessary to tackle specific projects. Committee Chairman Lucian Nevatt is a member of the parks board. Though not a lifelong resident, Nevatt has lived in St. Peters for 10 years and is excited to be on the committee so he can learn more about St. Peters local history. 

“I’ve been trying to find extra old historical information around where I live and I love finding out little things, like how random streets got their names,” Nevatt explained. “City history has always been very fascinating to me. It’s important for historical information to be documented and available to the public, and I want to encourage those interested to get involved and help maintain the history of St. Peters.” 

Sigmund TV front
The faceplate of Sylvan Sigmund’s circa 1947 television (Source: St. Peters Historical Focus Committee)

St. Peters got its start when it incorporated as a town in 1910. It became a fourth class city under Missouri statutes in 1959. 

Committee representative and alderman Joyce Townsend (Ward 1) said, “My personal hope is that this committee will be able to unearth some of the smaller, more personal stories that are still out there to discover and share.”

Townsend’s interest in the city’s history began with a call from a long-time St. Peters resident who was preparing to move. She had saved all of the Old Town Association records from her time as secretary there. Townsend is now in the process of going through the many boxes and putting that story together for the city. 

Townsend is also trying to solve the mystery of the wooden chairs. 

The Historical Focus Committee received a set of wooden folding chairs from the original city hall and Townsend is trying to track down if they are original to the early 1900s. The group also is scouting out the origins of the newel post from the same building, which was salvaged when city hall was remodeled. Since the original city hall was located upstairs, the newel post would have been touched by mayors, aldermen and citizens on their way to and from conducting the city’s business.

The committee has access to all of the city scrapbooks that are in storage and that are not researched and cataloged. Its mammoth task will be to try and identify the persons and events pictured in those photographs and document them accordingly. The committee will then turn those items into readable, usable references to St. Peters’ history.

One of the more recent discoveries shared by the committee with members of the community was about Sylvan Sigmund, a St. Peters resident who was one of the original inventors of local television. In 1945, Sigmund used an RCA kit to build his own television. Even though no one had a television in their home at the time, Sigmund was confident that television was going to be a hit. Building on his experience in radio sales and repair, he opened Sigmund Television at 6 Main Street in St. Peters. 

In the summer of 1947, when KSD-TV went on the air for the first time, Sigmund gave a demonstration for a small crowd of people in front of his homemade television. According to KSD-TV, there were only four TV sets in the entire viewing area at that time. The crowd watched a 90-minute show that featured Cardinals catcher Joe Garagiola on the set’s 12-inch screen. 

Sigmund’s TV is currently on display at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre. 

There are more discoveries to be made but the committee says it needs more involvement from the community. If digging up old stories or salvaging historical discoveries is a shared passion, consider joining the Historical Focus Committee. Contact Nevatt at lucian.nevatt@gmail.com or Townsend at (636) 357-2789 to learn more. Meeting dates and times will be announced through stpetersmo.net.

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