Monroe County, Illinois, is located right across the river from St. Louis and Jefferson Counties. According to the U.S. Gen Web Project’s website, Monroe County was formed on January 6, 1816, before Illinois was even a state. It was named after former president James Monroe, and its county seat was initially Harrisonville. Waterloo became the county seat in 1825, and it continues to hold this role today. The Monroe County Courthouse is located in Waterloo, and it is a beautiful building. A vintage telephone booth stands on the corner, and there is also a relatively new buffalo statue on the courthouse yard.
The artist who painted the cake at the Monroe County Courthouse chose to highlight each of the cities in Monroe County. The cake is simple but cute. The color of the icing matches a nearby light pole, and symbols of Monroe County adorn the cake. For example, there is a first place blue ribbon like one that could be won at a fair, an ear of corn, a train, a boat, and a few other symbols.
Let the Belleville cakes continue! Today’s cake is located at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. A couple years ago, I learned the history of the Shrine at a retreat. However, unfortunately I’ve since forgotten most of it. According to the Shrine’s website, its title refers to a miraculous snowfall that took place in Rome that Mary used to designate where she wanted a church built. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate brought the devotion to Our Lady of the Snows to the Midwest in 1941. The current shrine location was chosen in 1958, and today it remains a peaceful place to reflect on Mary. Additionally, the Shrine is known for its Christmas light display, entitled “Way of Lights.” It opens November 21 and runs to January 2, so there’s plenty of time to check it out!
April Morrison painted the cake at the Shrine. The main tier of the cake features flowers. The icing of the cake is covered in circles that appear to represent the hosts used in Catholic Mass tradition. The history of the Shrine is much more interesting than I have made it appear, and if you visit the Shrine you can glean more of the interesting tidbits of its history.
Belleville, Illinois offers many landmarks of historical interest, such as the Victorian Home Museum. According to the St. Clair County Historical Society’s website, the group purchased the home that houses the museum in 1963. The home was renovated and opened as a museum in 1968. Today, the museum shows what life was like for affluent Victorian-era Belleville families. The house itself dates back to 1866, and it was built for Morris Dobschutz. Today, one can tour the home for the reasonable adult admission price of $2.
Paul LaFlam painted the cake at the Victorian Home Museum. The cake features a colorful patchwork of shapes, and the entire design resembles a quilt. I’m sure there’s a quilt or two in the Victorian Home Museum!
I cannot recall ever going to a drive-in movie. However, the opportunity exists in Belleville, Illinois. While it is now closed for the season, the Skyview Drive-In offers a unique way to view a film. According to its website, it first opened on July 8, 1949. Throughout the years, it has weathered quite a few literal storms. The drive-in has overcome extensive wind damage multiple times throughout the years to remain a great family destination. Some things have changed through the years; for example, the screening films’ sound is now projected through FM stereo. Regardless, the drive-in maintains its vintage charm.
Ray Harvey painted the cake at the Skyview Drive-In. It features retro cars, the likes of which were probably driven to the Drive-In during its earliest days. A checkered backdrop and candlestick are also eye-catching, and I like how the license plates of the cars are all STL250. The Skyview Drive-In seems like a great place to catch a film, so consider checking it out when it reopens for the season!
Eckert’s Belleville Country Store is located in Belleville, Illinois. I vaguely remember taking apple-picking field trips to Eckert’s when I was in elementary school, and Eckert’s is known as a pick-your-own produce experience. According to the Eckert’s website, the Eckert’s history begins when Johann Peter Eckert emigrated from Germany to Pennsylvania in 1837. His grandson Michael planted fruit trees on Turkey Hill Farm in 1890, and this farm became Eckert’s. Today, Eckert’s is still a family affair; the sixth and seventh generations of the Eckert family run the business. The Country Store is open year-round, and it dates back to a roadside stand that opened in 1910. Today, the store is much more substantial and offers a wide variety of delicious food.
Mary Hessler painted the cake at Eckert’s. It features a sumptuous produce theme; appetizing pumpkins, apples, peaches, and strawberries adorn the cake. These foods can all be picked at Eckert’s when they are in season. The candlestick matches the sky painted in the farm scene on the base of the cake. The Eckert’s Country Store is a great place to visit, even in winter!
Located in Belleville, Illinois, the Emma Kunz House dates back to 1851. According to the St. Clair County Historical Society’s website, the house exemplifies a “German Street House,” which is a type of brick cottage that was popular with German immigrants. The house was almost demolished, but it was saved and donated to the Historical Society. The Historical Society had the house moved to its current location, and it also renovated the house. It became a public museum in 1978, and it shows what everyday life was like in 19th century Belleville. The museum is called the Emma Kunz House because Emma Kunz was the last resident of the house.
David Ottinger painted the cake at the Emma Kunz House. The cake is primarily painted in pastel blue, and white silhouettes of a female figure are painted around the cake. A rendition of the house is painted on the back of the main tier of the cake, and little flowers that resemble hibiscus are interspersed throughout the cake’s design.
Scott Field Heritage Air Park is located in Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. According to the park’s website, its mission is to “portray the history of Scott Air Force Base, the Air Mobility Command and the Airlift, Air Refueling and Aeromedical Evacuation missions.” To achieve this mission, the park has quite a few planes on display. (Like the one in the picture above that my awesome dad is standing by.) There is information about each plane for the public to peruse, and the planes are all pretty awe-inspiring.
Tom Hunt painted the cake at the park. It features a transportation theme. The base of the cake features the river, the main tier of the cake features trains (including a MetroLink train), and the top tier spotlights planes. The base of the cake also depicts the St. Louis skyline and some bridges. The top of the cake features a very realistic earth that the candlestick rises out of.