Sculptor crushed to death by bulldozer at concrete plant he was turning into ‘Cementland’ theme park
A sculptor who turned a collection of unusual artefacts into a museum has been found dead in a bulldozer at a former cement plant he was transforming into a theme park.
Bob Cassilly, 61, created St Louis’ top tourist attraction and was described as a ‘visionary’ by all who knew his work.
He was found dead on Monday morning by a co-worker and police are trying to determine the cause of death.
Close friend Bruce Gerrie told Fox that he believed the bulldozer he was in rolled over several times when the road gave way.
He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time.
Mayor of the city Francis Slay said on Twitter yesterday: ‘The City has lost some of its wonder. RIP Bob Cassilly.’
The museum’s website also posted a message saying: ‘City Museum is saddened by the loss of our founder and inspiration, Robert Cassilly. 1949-2011.’
A spokesman for the St Louis office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it was investigating the scene of Cassilly’s death to determine the cause and see whether any health or safety laws had been violated.
Tributes poured in for the man who was described as a ‘creative genius’ and a Facebook remembrance page featuring photos of some of his best work were set up.
City Museum, whose slogan was ‘Where the imagination runs wild!’, opened in 1997 in a 600,000-square-foot warehouse that formerly housed the International Shoe Company on 15th Street near Washington Avenue.
With its abandoned airplanes, elevated walkways and other items the museum calls ‘an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique found objects … the very stuff of the city’, it quickly became popular with locals and tourists.
It was a regular place of interest for those who were seeking a more fun and unusual experience.
Mr Cassilly has been working on a new project, Cementland, for the last ten years and it was thought to have been near completion.
He wanted to turn the old cement factory into an attraction.
Cassilly is best known for founding the City Museum but his other works include sculptures in Turtle Park near Hampton Avenue, hippos for a New York’s Central Park in Manhattan, several sculptures in the St Louis Zoo, a large butterfly sculpture near the Butterfly House, and a recreation of ancient stone ruins at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.
By Rachel Quigley