Interview by Phoebe Yao
Hugh Scott has lived in Clayton since 1951, when his mother bought a house on Westmoreland just east of Hanley Road. His dad was in service in Korea and his first memories of living in Clayton, was a traditional 50’s neighborhood with a community full of kids and the Maryland Elementary School across street. Though he majored in English at University, Scott’s family involvement in politics, with his father serving as a county Councilman who wrote the present Clayton charter, drew him into government.
“The whole idea of serving the community was something that was instilled in my siblings and me throughout our entire childhood,” Scott said.”I’m very proud to say that lots of my siblings and cousins have become involved in government in one fashion or another and it was something very important in the culture of my family.”
Scott’s legacy in Clayton centers on his involvement in regional government. In the past few decades, Scott has served on the Board of Alderman, was commissioner for the Zoo and Museum district, and was Mayor of Clayton from ‘87 to ‘91. He saw the beginnings of Clayton’s building boom, worked on important zoning issues, developed the bi-state transit system which placed a metro-link station in Clayton and greatly enriched the community with the expensive project of placing the line by the Forest Park Expressway.
“Clayton is the county seat of St. Louis county, and its been the seat of the county since before Clayton was Clayton. And we’ve been the hub of a lot of what happens governmentally in St. Louis. But more importantly Clayton developed because of a very wise group of people in the 50’s who hired a pretty well known city planner who lived in Clayton to do a master plan , and most cities didn’t have a masters plan. So what Clayton was able to do, finished in 1958, was identify a central business district. and essentially they said these 12 square blocks are our CBD and you can build it to the sky as long as you remain in those 12 square blocks. But do not come to the city to ask us to change zoning and residential property to commercial. We want to have a strong community surrounding our CBD. and that just gave rise to so many exciting things. Thanks to the wisdom of the board of alderman for the past 60 years, we haven’t deviated from that plan, so as a result, the residential community is in St. Louis. if would’ve been a disaster if we had an urban sprawl happen within the two and a half square miles of Clayton.
Clayton is probably the best planned community in St. Louis County, in my opinion.
We have the zoo, art museum, science center, history museum, botanical garden and they exist due to the county’s willingness to support them.”