Central West End


Plans to erect a new Roman Catholic Cathedral to replace the old one near the riverfront, date from 1871 when Archbishop Kenrick inaugurated such a movement. The block bounded by 22nd, Pine, 23rd and Chestnut Streets was purchased as its site; however, no construction was undertaken at that time. In 1896, action on the idea was again begun when the present site of the Cathedral at Lindell and Newstead was acquired by Archbishop Kain. A new parish was formed and a chapel and rectory were built at Newstead and Maryland Avenues. The chapel was planned as the beginning of a cathedral in the style of a Roman Basilica, but planning was forestalled financially by losses caused to Church properties by the tornado of 1896. The idea was revived by Archbishop Glennon in 1905, and a fund of $600,000 was raised to promote the movement. An architectural competition was held with the stipulation that the design was not to be in Classic, Gothic or Renaissance styles.

Plans in a combination of Romanesque and Byzantine styles by Barnett, Haynes and Barnett were declared to be the winner in 1906. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on May 1, 1907, and the cornerstone was laid on October 18, 1908, following a parade and ceremonies which included reading of a papal blessing. The church was to be one of the largest in America and included four lateral chapels at a cost of $100,000 each. Consecration ceremonies took place in October, 1914, after which the old chapel was demolished.

The new Cathedral's exterior was then complete with a length of 380 feet, a width of 212 feet and the height to the top of the dome was 220 feet. The great dome was inspired by the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and was the crowning glory to the magnificent structure. Work on the interior then began and proceeded intermittently for many years as the arches, walls and columns were given a sheathing of marble or a covering of mosaic. The latter work was done by the Tiffany Company of New York. Central point of interest in the interior is the high altar of white marble surmounted by a baldachino of silver filigree, which is supported by onyx columns and decorated with mosaic work. Decorative work on the last of the four chapels was completed in 1926, in time for ceremonies marking the centennial of the foundation of the separate diocese of St. Louis.

Title of Cathedral of St. Louis was given to the new building on October 18, 1914, at which time the old Cathedral became the Church of St. Louis of France. Cardinal John Glennon was buried in a crypt in the Cathedral following his death in 1945. Adjacent to the Cathedral complex is the circular Chancery office building which was constructed in the 1960's. Its form was designed to complement that of the Cathedral. Also adjoining the Cathedral are its parochial school whose present buildings were built in 1965, and its rectory at 4439 Lindell, which was completed in 1941, at a cost of $275,000. The rectory is faced with Minnesota granite in the architectural style of the nearby Cathedral.

The parish of St. Bernard, Abbott was organized in what was then the town of Rock Spring, on January 16, 1874. First services were held in a private residence until a five acre church site was purchased and the house was fitted for use as a church and school. The southern portion of the church property was sold for building lots in 1875 and on June 11, 1876, the cornerstone was laid for a new church. St. Bernard's parish was dismembered in 1885, to create St. Henry's parish and again in 1892, to form that of St. Aloysius. A new school and hall was built in 1890, followed by a new rectory in 1900, and work on a new church building was begun at that time. It was modified Gothic in style and was dedicated in 1912. Due to dwindling of the parish, and a changing neighborhood the church was abandoned and razed in the early 1970's.

Second Baptist Church moved westward from Locust and Beaumont Streets to the southeast corner of Kingshighway and Washington Boulevards in 1907. The Lombard Gothic brick structure with its 215 foot bell tower was dedicated on October 18, 1907. It was designed by Mauran, Russell and Garden and consists of two buildings connected by loggias. Together with St. John's Methodist Church and Temple Israel, it formed a group known for many years as 'Holy Corners.' In 1954, the Second Baptist Church moved again to the old Wade Childress estate at Clayton and McKnight roads in Ladue. The old church was acquired by the Gospel Assembly Congregation.

Congregation B'nai El moved from Spring and Flad Avenues to the former Central Presbyterian Church at Delmar and Clara in 1930. It occupied that building for many years before another move to its present temple at 11411 Highway 40 in St. Louis County. The Clara Avenue structure is now occupied by a black congregation. Temple Israel, following the westward trend in church movements, removed from its old home at Leffingwell and Pine to its new Temple on the northwest corner of Kingshighway and Washington in 1908. This Roman style temple in the Corinthian order is modeled after the Church of the Madeleine in Paris. Another westward move was made in recent years to a new temple at 10675 Ladue Road. A church hall, that was built west of the Temple on Washington, is currently occupied by the Lincoln public high school.

Third member of the 'Holy Corners' trio was St. John's Methodist Church at the southwest corner of that intersection. This Italian Renaissance style building was completed in 1903, from plans by architect Theodore G. Link. It is constructed of Indiana limestone with a classic design interior which has undergone several renovations in later years. These included a new chancel in 1946, and new stained glass windows in 1967. While its neighbors have relocated, St. John's has elected to remain at its old corner and undertake the responsibilities of an urban ministry.

First Presbyterian Church was located at the southwest corner of Sarah Street and Washington Boulevard from 1888 to 1928, when a move was made to its present location at 7200 Delmar in University City. Prior to 1888, it had occupied a large church at 14th Street and Lucas Place since 1855. After the westward move in 1928, the Sarah Street Church became the home of the Giddings Presbyterian Church named after the founder of Presbyterianism in Missouri.

At the northwest corner of Taylor Avenue and Westminster Place, is the imposing building of the Second Presbyterian Church, which is that congregation's third home. Moving west from 17th and Locust Streets, it occupied a chapel on this site in 1896. It was designed by architects Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge of Boston, and contains a recently discovered stained glass ceiling in its attic. Cornerstone laying ceremonies for the massive Romanesque style church were held in 1899, with completion of the structure one year later. It is the work of Theodore C. Link who also designed several mansions on the two block stretch of Westminster, east of the church, in a subdivision known as Fullerton Place. Several additions have been made to the church, culminating in the educational building, which was completed in 1931.

The church, which decided in 1961 to remain at its present location, was recently named to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and social achievements. Westminster Presbyterian Church at the southwest corner of Delmar and Union Boulevards was designed by Albert B. Groves and completed in 1916. It is an example of 16th century English Gothic architecture and is constructed of Bedford limestone. This church was formerly the Grand Avenue Presbyterian, which was located on the present site of the Fox Theater. The present name was re-adopted when it moved into a chapel on the Union and Delmar location in 1914. In 1906, the Central Presbyterian Church moved from Lucas and Garrison Avenues to a new home on the southeast corner of Delmar and Clara. After liquidation of its debt, the new church was dedicated in 1926. Four years later, Central Church merged with the Clayton Church, which was also under Southern Presbyterian control and sold the Clara Avenue building to the B'nai El Jewish Congregation. The combined churches occupied the new Central Church near Clayton and Hanley Roads.

The Second or Grand Avenue United Presbyterian Church began as a mission of the First United Church in 1881. It originally occupied a frame building near Grand and Clark Avenues. This was replaced by a brick church at 3602 Forest Park Boulevard in 1895. In 1902, a group left the church to form the Gibson Heights Church and in 1923, the name of the Grand Avenue Church was changed to Second United Church. A move to a new location on Chambers Road in Dellwood was made in 1953, at which time the old church was sold to a Pentecostal group. It was later razed.

St. George's Episcopal Church was located at the north-west corner of Olive Street and Pendleton Avenue from 1892 until 1928. It relocated there following a disastrous fire which destroyed its large stone edifice at Beat and Chestnut Streets. The chapel at the Pendleton site was built in part with stones from the burned out old church. After a long period of troublous times, it was decided to merge St. George's parish with that of St. Michael and All Angels on Wydown Boulevard, west of Skinker. This was done in 1928, at which time the new church was renamed as the Church of St. Michael and St. George. The Pendleton Avenue building was later acquired by St. Stephen's Luthern Church. In 1910, Trinity Episcopal Church purchased the former St. Mark's Memorial Episcopal Church at 4005 Washington Avenue. Originally, the St. Mark's congregation was located at the southeast corner of Washington and Vandeventer about 1889. Trinity Church remained at 4005 Washington until 1935, when it merged with the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and occupied its building at Euclid Washington, where it is presently located.

The Church of the Redeemer was organized in 1891 on Pine Street near Garrison in a building which now houses the Berea Presbyterian Church. In 1903, a new parish house was built at Euclid and Washington, where services were held until 1910. In that year, it merged with St. James Church then at Goode and Cote Brilliante Avenues. This church was built in 1900, by E. C. Simmons as a memorial to his daughter and was removed and re-erected at Euclid and Washington in 1910, to become the new home of the Church of the Redeemer. In 1935, Trinity Church merged with it and has since occupied the old Redeemer Church building.

St. Stephen's Lutheran Church was organized in January, 1930, as a result of work by Dr. Walter A. Maier of Concordia Seminary and the Students Missionary Society. The former St. George's Episcopal Church at Olive Street and Pendleton Avenue was purchased for $29,500 and extensive renovation work was undertaken. In 1952, an addition was constructed on the west side of the church building.

The Unitarian Church of the Unity at 5007 Waterman Avenue was completed in 1917, at a cost of $45,000. Its site had been purchased with proceeds from the sale of its old building at Park and Armstrong Avenues. The church was designed in early English Gothic style by William B. Ittner. It has been merged with the First Unitarian Church and bears that name. By 1902, the First Church of Christ Scientist had outgrown its old church on Pine Street east of Leffingwell and services were held temporarily in the Odeon Theater. In 1903, the present site at Kingshighway and Westminster Place was purchased and construction of the new church was begun. It is a simplified Italian Renaissance structure designed by Mauran, Russell and Garden, that was occupied in 1904, and dedicated in the next year.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at 4949 Forest Park Avenue was completed in 1930, and a large gymnasium and educational building was added to the west of the church in 1961.