Sunday, April 12, 2009

The whole Hermann's Hole Story....

When the skateparks of the 70’s started closing down in the 80’s the solution was to build halfpipes in backyards across America. But now that we are into the end of the first decade of the 21st century a new version of the back yard ramp has come into being: the purpose-built concrete bowl for skating. It might look like a pool but it’s never had water in it for swimming. This is of course a more West Coast trend than any place else but here in the Show Me state one skater with a lot of help has created a place he calls Hermann’s Hole.

The force behind the creation of Hermann’s Hole is JP. He got his first skateboard for his tenth birthday from his dad in 1986 and, until a move to Phoenix at age 19, it was just transportation or something to do. But after the move and being followed out by his friend Deaf Brian ( he met up with the Cow Town crew and it was on, skating 24/7. JP said at that point he was “Busing tables for money and breaking myself off for fun. I learned to film, travel, and a whole lot more stuff college would not learn me. I moved back and forth here and there for a while always skateboarding and being reckless”.

After he landed in San Diego for a while, he watched the start of Washington St grow from a small hip and rail to what JP calls the “best skate park in the world”. It was during this time in San Diego that JP also made it up and down the West Coast visiting every piece of concrete park he could find including the now famous homegrown Burnside. All the while he was there he had a mini ramp in the backyard just two blocks from the ocean. I think this is what is often referred to as living the dream. It was during this process of living the dream that he conjured the idea of building his own concrete bowl after being inspired by a bit of traveling to “Cholos bowls in Hawaii, SK8Goa in India, Cuatros Casas in
Mexico, and Zarosh's Place in northern California…I'd have to say
those four and Washington Street SD are my key inspirations for Hermann's Hole.”

In October of 2005 he left San Diego because as JP puts it, “I always felt like I was sitting talking about it but not actually doing it in California. The norm for most of us oppressed skateboarders hiding in the shadows huh”?

JP landed back in St. Louis for a brief time until he decided he was “Off to skate the world! India to build some concrete skateables the hard way, Germany to skate with Grobowski at Minus-Ramps, England shredding with the Death Team and the Wada Pirates. After a while of that I came back and got a job with California Skate parks. Built a bowl in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2007, skated FDR, and the Green Lab bowl in D.C. I came home again and dabbled in DIY stuff around St. Louis with Deaf Brian and Soup but we always got harassed by the cops. That’s when I decided to stop my skate travels for a while and concentrate on building something Missouri needs!!”

At first JP said he was just going for a “mini ramp then it turned into hand poured half pipe with parking block coping”. But after deciding he had the money and crew to do it the plans changed and it became “Hermann’s Hole.” Since it was started last spring he has since added decks and the beginning of a flow bowl with some street obstacles. JP said, in the future “hopefully with the help of some STL and Midwest skaters, we can make a crazy race track go 360. Then some landscape later, and along the way I’id like the place to be in natural surroundings, but on and around the ‘crete it’s gonna be a grand work of art—a monument for Missouri bowl skaters.”

JP would like to thank a few of the people that made up the crew. “Chris and
Michelle, Deaf Brian, Soup, Pat, Terry, Kyle, Mute Weddle, Hollie, Dega,
and anyone else who helped... It wouldn't be possible without ya!!”

There will be a one year anniversary weekend party/camp out May 8th through the 10th. See the flyer for info, it should be one rad weekend.

JBH, FSG over box (P. Graf photo)

Hermann's Hole part 1 "The Awakening" from Hermann's Hole on Vimeo.

More photos and contact available at or click on the flyer at the top of the story.