By Julie Tristan
Thousands of people walk around Downtown St. Louis every day, but do they really know the history that’s happened right beneath their feet? Do you?
That’s one of the reasons Adam Frick-Verdine created Un(Heard)OfSTL, a non-profit project with fiscal sponsorship by Midwest Artist Project Services.
“Un(Heard)OfSTL is an interactive audio map that explores St. Louis’ diverse history through cinematic audio stories,” says Frick-Verdine.
He says “Cinematic Audio Stories” are ‘little short films for your ears’.
It’s a website, not an app, where you can listen to 10 short stories about historical events that happened in each area. They wanted to start with 10 stories and plan to keep adding more.
“We wanted to cover as much ground as we could; there’s black history, women’s rights, native stories, and we wanted to include LGBTQIA,” says Frick-Verdine.
One story you will hear is from Percy Green who climbed the St. Louis Arch to protest a lack of black workers. Un(Heard)OfSTL did an interview with him and chose snippets of it to share.
Percy Green is the only real-life account you’ll hear in these shorts films. Some of the events happened more than 100 years ago.
“All but one are fully scripted, so we are imagining what Virginia Minor might have said or the James Eads story has a lot of direct quotes from what he might have said,” Frick-Verdine explains.
While listening to each audio story, you can view illustrations created by a local artist, they also included archival photographs or photos of the site as it is now to help bring context to each space.
“They are all fully produced with actors, sound design, fully scripted so it’s not a walking tour, it’s not someone telling you about history, you hit play and you are inside the story,” says Frick-Verdine.
Another great story from the bunch is about Virginia Minor who sued the city of St. Louis for her right to vote.
“Virginia Minor was working at the same time as Susan B. Anthony, just in a different part of the country. Ultimately when Susan B. Anthony made a larger movement, they took a lot of ideas from Virginia Minor,” Frick-Verdine explains.
You’ll hear about Buddy Walton, hairdresser to the stars who did the hair of famous ladies like Bette Davis and Eleanor Roosevelt. There’s a story about the Lemp family’s first brewery, and another about Mr. Meachum and his First Baptist Church.
It’s a website that is a history lesson that just might get you to take a second look at something you have seen several times!