Art building to be named for Walkers

The Sam Fox Arts Center will dedicate a new School of Art studio building in honor of St. Louis community leaders Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton announced Dec. 10.

The Wilpon Student Art Review Room (foreground) and painting studios (background) are seen in this rendering of the School of Art's new Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker hall.
The Wilpon Student Art Review Room (foreground) and painting studios (background) are seen in this rendering of the School of Art’s new Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker hall.

Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker Hall will be located at the southeastern end of the Hilltop Campus, immediately north of the School of Art’s historic, Beaux Arts-era Bixby Hall. The three-story, approximately 38,000 gross-square-foot limestone-clad structure will house graduate studios; ceramics, sculpture, painting and metalworking studios; and the Nancy Spirtas Kranzberg Studio for the Illustrated Book.

“Washington University is honored to have one of our new buildings named for Earl and Myrtle Walker,” Wrighton said. “They are exceptional people who have raised a wonderful family, founded and developed a successful company and contributed greatly to the welfare of others.

“The Walkers truly believe there is nothing more important than educating our young people and preparing them to become leaders in their professions. Washington University is proud to have the Walker name join other distinguished names associated with our campuses.”

Earl and Myrtle Walker are chief executive officer and vice president, respectively, of Carr Lane Manufacturing Co., one of the world’s foremost suppliers of tooling components, which they founded in 1952.

As a young woman, Myrtle Agnew Walker aspired to become an artist but, in 1938, had to turn down a scholarship to Northwestern University because the award covered tuition but not room and board. Despite that setback, her interest in the arts remained strong, and she went to work drawing blueprints for houses her father built in Jefferson City, Mo., and St. Louis County.

Over the past 30 years, Carr Lane Castings, the foundry the Walkers now operate in Shrewsbury, has earned a national reputation for fabricating bronze, brass, aluminum, stainless steel and painted steel artworks by sculptors from around the world.

In particular, the company has worked extensively with sculptors Ernest Trova, Don Wiegand and Harry Weber, notably on Wiegand’s bust of Augustus “Gussie” Busch and on Weber’s sculptures of Jack Buck, Ozzie Smith and Stan Musial, all at Busch Stadium.

Jeff Pike, dean of the School of Art, pointed out that Walker Hall will allow programs currently housed at satellite facilities in University City and Clayton — including the sculpture, ceramics, photography and visual communications major areas — to return to the Hilltop Campus. This, he said, will promote a renewed sense of community within the school while also fostering greater interaction with other units of the Sam Fox Arts Center.

“Walker Hall will literally transform the School of Art,” Pike said. “For the first time in decades, all art students and faculty will work and study alongside one another at a single, central location.

“It is an extraordinary moment, for which we are profoundly in the Walkers’ debt.”

The Walkers, both natives of Kirkwood, Mo., are generous supporters of civic, educational and charitable organizations throughout the region. These include the Kirkwood School District, The Magic House in Kirkwood, the Kirkwood-Webster YMCA, the YMCA of the Ozarks, Shriner’s Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, Trinity Lutheran Church of Kirkwood and the Girl Scout Council of Greater St. Louis.

In 1989, they co-founded the Walker Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders, which provides professional treatment for speech and language-impaired children ages 2-6.

The couple founded Carr Lane Manufacturing when Earl, as a welder at McDonnell Aircraft Co. in the early 1950s, realized there was a market for standard tools to hold airplane parts as they were fabricated. Carr Lane soon took off, and today the company and its many subsidiaries supply more than 9,700 tooling items to the aerospace, automotive, appliance and furniture industries.

For more than 30 years, the Walkers have participated in the COE (cooperation education) Program with the Kirkwood, Maplewood-Richmond Heights and Webster Groves school districts.

In 1988, they created an endowed scholarship fund at the University of Texas, and in the early 1990s they created a Society of Manufacturing Engineers engineering scholarship.

In 2001, the Myrtle Agnew Walker Art Grant was established at Kirkwood High School. Most recently, the Walkers funded renovation and refurbishing of the Art Room at Logos High School in St. Louis.

At Washington University, the Walkers established the Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker Scholarship in the School of Art in 2001. In 1999, they received the Robert S. Brookings Award for exemplifying the alliance between the University and its community.

In 1998, they established the Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker Professorship in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, currently held by Kenneth L. Jerina, D.Sc. In 2002, Earl Walker received an honorary doctor of science degree.

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.