Compton Heights


The parish of St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church was organized in 1867 as an offshoot from Saints Peter and Paul Church. Dedication of the church, at the northwest corner of Gravois and Ohio Avenues, occurred on May 24, 1868. The parochial school was organized in 1871 and occupies a three story building to the north of the church. During the early 1880's, a spire and slate roof were added to the church at a cost of $7,000. In 1888 Archbishop Kenrick laid the cornerstone of a new parochial school and work began on a new church building in 1895.

After the old church was destroyed by the tornado of 1896, it was decided to complete only the basement of the new structure. Work on the superstructure was resumed in 1907 under the direction of Rev. F.G. Holweck. The present church was completed in 1908 at a cost of $300,000.

The nave is 65 feet in height and the church's steeple is said to be the loftiest in the City. St. Francis de Sales Church is notable for its fine altar, artistic windows and the beautiful mosaic chapel. A new parochial school building at 263145 Ohio Avenue was completed in 1939. This school is now known as Notre Dame Elementary and is a consolidated school serving three parishes.

The church of the Immaculate Conception began as St. Kevin's Church at Compton Avenue and Rutger Street in 1876. The original church was 40 by 80 feet in size and could seat 320 persons. There was an adjoining parochial school occupying a two story structure with a capacity of 350 students. After an initial struggle, the parish grew rapidly under the pastorate of Rev. E.J. Shea. A new church became necessary and was dedicated in 1889 at Park and Cardinal Avenues. By 1904, continued growth made still larger quarters necessary and the site of the present church was purchased. The fine Gothic stone building at Lafayette Avenue and Longfellow Boulevard was dedicated in December 1908 by Archbishop Glennon. At that time the parish adopted the name of Immaculate Conception, which had been used by a defunct parish church at Jefferson and Locust until 1901.

The new church is a clerestory style building with rose windows in the facade and transepts and a truncated tower.

A consolidated school, shared with several parishes, is known as the Compton Heights Catholic School and is located at 2912 Lafayette Avenue.

A new parish, dedicated to the Bohemian national saint, King Wendeslaus, was formed by Rev. Joseph Hessoun of St. John of Nepomuk Church in 1895. A church and school were blessed in that year. The present Gothic church of St. Wenceslaus at 3014 Oregon Avenue was completed in 1925 at a cost of $125,000.

Compton Heights Baptist Church has been located west of Grand Boulevard, at 3641 Russell, since 1915. Compton Heights Christian Church, the first of its denomination in South St. Louis, began as a mission with the congregation meeting in Anchor Hall At Jefferson and Lafayette Avenues in 1891. Three years later it was organized as a church and ultimately a chapel was built on a site at California and St. Vincent Avenues. The chapel was rebuilt after its destruction by the tornado of 1896 and was enlarged in 1902. It served until 1930 when the church moved to the former B'nai E1 Hebrew Temple at Spring and Flad Avenues. A movement for a permanent location with room for expansion began in 1924 and the old Nicolaus mansion at Grand Boulevard and Flora Place was purchased. Building restrictions prevented immediate erection of a church there until finally invalidated by favorable court decisions. The present church at 2149 South Grand was completed in 1948.

Establishment of the Compton Hill Congregational Church occurred in 1880 as the High (23rd) Street Mission, which was a colony from Pilgrim Church. In the next year it was organized as the Fifth Congregational Church in the former High Street Presbyterian Church at 23rd Street and Clark Avenue. Soon thereafter, a mission was established on Caroline Street west of Compton Avenue.

The present site at Compton and Lafayette Avenues was purchased in 1886 and following completion of a chapel there in 1888, the present church name was adopted. The church building was dedicated in 1894. During the ensuing years the church experienced periods of hardship one of which was caused by removal of families from the vicinity following the tornado of 1896. The building debt was substantially reduced during the pastorate Dr. W.W. Newell. Alterations to the building and subsequent rearrangement of its seating capacity were made by Rev. L.J. Sharp who became pastor in 1916. By 1935 the church membership was about 300.

The nucleus of St. Luke's or St. Lucas' German Evangelical Church was organized in 1870 at 2637 Chouteau Avenue. A lot on the northeast corner of Jefferson and Scott Avenues was purchased and a small brick church was erected on the rear portion. The congregation became a member of the Evangelical Synod of North America in 1874 and in 1878 a new church was dedicated on the church lot. It was a brick Gothic structure capable of seating 800 persons. At that time the chapel was converted into a school. The church was rebuilt after the tornado and its reopening on October 18, 1896 was the occasion of its first English service.

After liquidation of the church debt in 1903, the present church site at 2336 Tennessee Avenue was purchased in 1906. A Sunday school chapel was built there after which the old church was sold. The present church was dedicated in November, 1912. It is a brick edifice which was built at a cost of $50,000. The parochial school, as in the case of other Evangelical churches, was closed in favor of the public school system in 1896.

Emmaus Lutheran Church, which was an offshoot of Trinity Church, was established as a mission in 1889. The church was organized in 1894 by a group of Trinity Church members who petitioned for a church near Jefferson and Shenandoah Avenues. A small two story building was erected there, with the lower floor used as a school and the upper one for a chapel. The tornado in 1896 unroofed the church and demolished an addition.

The rebuilt structure was used until the present church was dedicated in 1902 at Jefferson Avenue and Armand Place. A large school and parish building at 2617 Shenandoah Avenue was completed in 1926. It contains rooms for an eight grade school and an auditorium-gymnasium seating 1000 persons. Soon after the dedication of this structure, the church was mysteriously damaged by fire and services were held in the school auditorium during reconstruction. The church estate; fished a cemetery called "Pilgrim's Rest" on Lemay Ferry Road in 1929. By 1934, the church membership had become one of the largest in the city. The church had then been under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Richard Kretschmar since 1891.

Messiah Lutheran Church at 2846 South Grand Boulevard (at Pestalozzi Street) was founded to fulfill the need for a church to serve Lutherans residing in its vicinity. After several meetings at Strassberger's Hall at Grand and Shenandoah, the congregation was organized on February 24, 1908. After the name was chosen, first services were held in Kleekamp's Hall on Grand near Arsenal Street. The church became self-supporting after its first year and the present site was finally purchased. A small brick chapel was dedicated in 1909.

Need for expansion eventually led to plans for the present church which was dedicated in December, 1928. After razing of the chapel, services were again held in Strassberger's Hall until completion of the new church. The Gothic design church was built of brick with limestone trim and is located on an elevated terrace. It was the work of the architectural firm of LaBeaume and Klein. Its interior has soft toned walls, dark woodwork and lofty arches with a beautiful chancel lighted by antique stained glass windows.

A new Messiah Lutheran school and youth center was completed in 1957 at 2900 South Grand Boulevard.

Peters Memorial Presbyterian Church at Sidney Street and Minnesota Avenue traces its origin to 1847 when a small group of immigrant Hollanders held services in a frame building at 13th Street and Park Avenue. After the death of the first pastor in 1855, many of the Dutch families moved to Iowa. A group of German and Swiss immigrants remained to carry on the work. Services were held in homes until 1863, when a request for organization was brought before the Presbytery.

The congregation was established in May 1863 under the name of First German Church with services in the old Second Church at Fifth and Walnut Streets. In 1864, the German church congregation moved to the South Mission School at Ninth and Marion Streets and later to a store at Tenth and Rutger Streets.

In 1867, a chapel was dedicated at this site and a larger church was built adjacent to it in 1871. After partial destruction in the 1896 tornado, the church was rebuilt and served the congregation for many years. As the neighborhood around the church declined, a move to a new location was considered.

Finally, the present site at Sidney Street and Minnesota Avenue was acquired in 1914 and a church was dedicated there two years later, with the name changed to Sidney Street Presbyterian Church. The old church became a mission. The present church was dedicated in 1931 and the name was again changed in honor of Frank H. Peters a distinguished benefactor of the church until his death in 1924.

The Gothic edifice was designed by Louis LaBeaume with an interior which has a heavy trussed beam ceiling and graceful arches. The older Sidney Street church was converted into a gymnasium to further its popular young peoples' work and athletic program.

Among other Protestant churches in the area are the Berea Temple at 3224 Russell Boulevard built in 1954 r the Memorial Methodist at 2157 South Jefferson Avenue and the Third Church of Christ Scientist at 3524 Russell, which was completed in 1912.