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Spanish Lake, Documentary on St. Louis White Flight, Will Play Another Week at the Tivoli

Categories: Movies

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Spanish Lake is showing at the Tivoli Theatre.
If you missed Phillip Andrew Morton's unflinching look at the impact social engineering and white flight had his hometown Spanish Lake, you're in luck. After two weekends topping the Tivoli Theatre's box office, the documentary Spanish Lake will play an additional week: Showtimes have been extended till July 3.

Morton chronicles the degeneration of Spanish Lake, where he grew up before earning a film degree at Webster University and moving to California, in his new film, which opened June 13. The unincorporated township grew into an idyllic, mostly middle class white refuge at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in the post-war years.

"They were the Tea Party before the Tea Party existed," Morton tells Daily RFT. "They were anti-government. They wanted very little government interaction with what they could and could not do."

But without a mayor, city council or the other trappings of an official, incorporated city, Spanish Lake residents couldn't push back against the federal officials scouting new sites for high-density urban housing. Poorer, black families started moving in, launching a mass exodus of white families to St. Charles County -- part of a nationwide social phenomenon known as "white flight."

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"St. Louis is particular in that we are not only segregated by race, we are segregated by class and religion in a hyper-segmented way," Morton says. "I want to portray the reality of the situation. I wasn't interested in using rose-colored glasses on this story."

White flight isn't unique to St. Louis, but the rapid decline of Spanish Lake is powerfully illustrative. In 1990 Spanish Lake was 80 percent white; by 2010 it was 80 percent black. Today, it's mostly empty, though Morton says it isn't down and out yet.

"There's a greater sense of community than there ever has been," Morton says. Improvements are happening, and crime statistics are dropping. "The actual story of Spanish Lake is on an upswing."

Morton's film may center on typically dry topics like urban planning and small-town governments, but his personal touches pack an emotional wallop.

"There have been a lot of people crying when they come out of the theater," he says.

Spanish Lake will show at the Tivoli Theatre in the Delmar Loop through July 3.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.



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49 comments
Rebecca K. Edens
Rebecca K. Edens

Dayna Schickedanz, we should find this and watch it together. Rare to find a "local" documentary.

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

STL is gonna have to get it together at some point. Every generation seems to make the city heal more and more. I think the hot spot policing has been a great idea. I think it should be taken one step further. We should have hot spot blitz days. In this operation....St. Louis City, in cooperation with surrounding municipalities, would borrow two officers from any that could lend them. These days would be unannounced. This could be done in any area with a high concentration of crime. Give the cops some financial incentive to do this through a special fund.

Jim Hessel
Jim Hessel

My dad ran the 7-11 by castle point in the 70's and 80's... He said the whites were just as bad as the blacks

Manuel Avila Jr
Manuel Avila Jr

it all started in castle point about 1976/77 I was there and then it spread to the lake area this should be about north county...

Joey Jay
Joey Jay

Who cares where white people want to live? The idea that a place is degraded simply because people of a particular skin-tone departed is inherently racist.

Garry Olson
Garry Olson

Mike Flavin Rich Swain Larry Breite Jason Raines Glenn Murphy John Schroeder Patrick Horn Terry Tatum Andrew Franklin Novis Lee Lou Cunningham Scott Peterson

Orion Getitin Jones
Orion Getitin Jones

And just to add , even after the incident my harrassment continued , and I still fought until this kid kept coming at me, and I beat him up, he ran home and told his parents. Then they come at me, his younger sister 4, or 5 at the time stood up and told the truth about what they were doing, imagine a block of grown women in tears

Orion Getitin Jones
Orion Getitin Jones

I fully agree with you. My angle is .... I hate when folks blame decline on us and many of us give a 100 percent shot at doing right and being right only to be harassed as if its correct or cool and have little recourse or no recourse. But if we pick up and fight , we are wrong. Hate is and never will be in me, because of "race", only the said persons actions determine that so I dont want to come off that way.

Sherry Melson
Sherry Melson

Orion, I live in a neighborhood in Wentzville of the 120 houses probably 5 "moor" families live here and maybe two hispanic neighbors. No one bullys the young minority children. Now would I say they are completely accepted by all, NO. But on the subject of white flight.....I live in Wentzville and raised my kids in O'fallon. We moved this way in 1984 because my husband got his job at the GM plant. We are white. We were raised in Bridgeton and Hazelwood. People have to make choices. We chose to move closer to a job. Some move for better schools. Some move for affordability reasons. Some are racist. I do have a problem with people blaming whites for moving out of their former neighborhoods. I truly believe The real problem is "Moors" are discriminated against when it comes to job opportunities. If that one problem, be it a big one, where resolved , there would be no need for the argument of who's fault it is because people would equal. Now the unfortunate thing is the middle class is disappearing and that puts all people in a battle against each other for survival. The rich are getting richer and those of us left behind are attacking each other. White or black, if you are low to middle income people, unity is the only thing that we get results.

Jennifer Osborn
Jennifer Osborn

Does anyone know if this will be available on Netflix? I'd love to see it as I'm from St. Louis but now living in Maine, many, many, many hours from the Tivoli.

Kate Rossiter
Kate Rossiter

I can't go...every time I see a historical building in ruins it already disturbs me to the core...

Tim Smythe
Tim Smythe

I grew up in Jennings and many of my friends are "Moors" but I sometimes got bullied and my car stolen from other Moors. I forgave and filled the chip in my shoulder. PS my eyes are not pink.

Orion Getitin Jones
Orion Getitin Jones

My thing is I dislike when Moors are blamed for other peoples insecurities! Not racist one bit and never will be.

Orion Getitin Jones
Orion Getitin Jones

Sorry no such thing as white either its albino to be specific and that is still Moor! You cant get Moor from Anglo its the other way around.. Sorry its the truth. See if 2 Anglos mate you will never get Moor, but you can get Anglo from Moor

Tim Smythe
Tim Smythe

No such thing as "white" either and not all "whites" are Caucasian or Anglo.

Laura Horstman
Laura Horstman

Deb woods is wrong!!! There are no blacks blaming the whites!! Have you even seen it??

Nakia Simpson
Nakia Simpson

Are you tired of working for someone else and not enjoying life? You can work from home work your own hours and make as much money as you allow. Inbox me to get started!!! See you at the top!!!!!

Orion Getitin Jones
Orion Getitin Jones

No such thing as "black", only Moor. "Black" is an Americanized term

Jeff Robson
Jeff Robson

going to the movie tonight with my dad and a few of my brothers and sisters

Orion Getitin Jones
Orion Getitin Jones

Sorry to correct you but you are wrong about Pruitt Igoe. Vietnam killed off Pruitt Igoe not white flight. I ask you this, do you know what that green radioactive substance that was sprayed from the roofs of those buildings was? And that is was sprayed only in "poor" areas! Not to mention the other radioactive material polluting Cold Water creek that feeds the North County Water supply.

Deb Woods
Deb Woods

It's just like the Pruitt Igoe documentary currently playing on PBS. Anyone glean what the "cause" of that was as per the documentary?? All the whites moved out to Suburbia and the City lost its tax base to pay for the social experiment that was Pruitt Igoe. All these documentaries are the same - blame whites for fleeing from areas no longer fit to live in. I would love to have the Pollyanna View of these things that some of you do here but I like to dwell in REALITY.

doublekickoriginal
doublekickoriginal

I grew up in Bellefontaine Neighbors had many friends in Spanish Lake.

Orion Getitin Jones
Orion Getitin Jones

It's more like the racists ran from their past and are ashamed and scared

Orion Getitin Jones
Orion Getitin Jones

To correct ... All Moors aren't poor! Like all whites aren't rich.. Rednecks are truly funny

Jordon Mccallister
Jordon Mccallister

HAHAHA!!! Matt Matthew Hogan in 40 years Jimmy, John, Josh, Daniel..

Brad Hicks
Brad Hicks

Boy is it obvious that Deb hasn't seen the movie.

Thë Hookman
Thë Hookman

It is a good movie though. I like the way there really is no narration but yet, easy to follow. Plus, I wrote a song in the movie...lol

Susie Nicholson
Susie Nicholson

Deb Woods, exactly. If these guys want to make another great documentary they should make one about LaClede Town.

Tim Smythe
Tim Smythe

The very few blacks in the film aren't blaming.

Deb Woods
Deb Woods

Summary Version: blacks moved in, whites moved out, blacks now blame whites for their flight.

flossyflossy
flossyflossy

If you think urban planning is dry, you don't know much about urban planning...

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