Tennessee in St. Louis

11, May 2016

“What shouldn’t you do if you’re a young playwright? Don’t bore the audience! I mean, even if you have to resort to totally arbitrary killing on stage, or pointless gunfire, at least it’ll catch their attention and keep them awake. Just keep the thing going any way you can.”
—Tennesee Williams in an interview with Dotson Rader for The Paris Review, 1981

Photo of a young Tennessee WilliamsDetail of Tennessee Williams from group portrait at Washington University, 1938. From the collections of the Missouri Historical Society.

Next month St. Louis will host a five-day-long celebration of its favorite native playwright. The second annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis will feature film screenings, readings, performances, and more! But to appreciate Williams the rest of the year, I just have to take a stroll in the neighborhood by my office at the Missouri History Museum’s Library and Research Center. You see, Williams lived in or spent time at many locations in University City and Clayton, and no less than three of his family’s homes are within a mile of the LRC.

Take a peek at these homes, accompanied by text from our 2006 book Here’s Where: A Guide to Illustrious St. Louis, written by Charlie Brennan.

42 Aberdeen Place

Photo of 42 Aberdeen PlaceWilliams lived here during breaks from the University of Iowa. Image courtesy of Lauren Mitchell.

Williams’s family rented the house at 42 Aberdeen Place from 1937 to about 1940. He lived at the house when he wasn’t studying at the University of Iowa. Williams described it as “a fine location.” From this address, he applied for work at KXOK, a new radio station owned by the St. Louis Star-Times.

53 Arundel Place

Image of 53 Arundel PlaceWilliams did some writing here in the 1940s. Image courtesy of Lauren Mitchell.

Williams’s mother, Edwina, lived at 53 Arundel Place in the 1940s. In the basement, he worked on a screenplay about Louisiana governor Huey Long. He wrote letters from this address, claiming his mother monitored his phone calls from the house by listening in on the other line.

6360 Wydown Boulevard

Image of 6360 Wydown BlvdWilliams visited his mother here in the 1950s. Image courtesy of Lauren Mitchell.

Williams’s mother lived at 6360 Wydown in her later years, in the 1950s. Tennessee stayed at his mother’s home when visiting St. Louis. In 1955 he wrote a letter from this address, stating he was in St. Louis to visit “what remains of my family.”

—Lauren Mitchell, Director of Publications