Grand Prairie


One of the oldest churches in the Grande Prairie area is that of St. Teresa of Avila, a Roman Catholic parish that was founded in 1865 by Rev. F. P. Gallagher. Dedication of the first church took place on September 23, 1866. It had a seating capacity of 300 which was enlarged to 700 by an addition in 1878. The church was built in the Byzantine style and set on a large lot, 236 by 315 feet in size. On August 1, 1876, the congregation was incorporated as St. Teresa's Roman Catholic Parish Association. The parochial school began in 1870 and was located in a building at the rear of the church.

By 1883, four parishes had been formed within the former boundaries of St. Teresa's parish. These were the German parishes of St. Augustine and Church of the Holy Ghost, the Redemptorist Church of St. Alphonsus and the Church of the Visitation.

Fr. Joseph A. Connelly, pastor during the 1890's, considerably enlarged the size of the school. Cornerstone laying ceremonies for the present church occurred on June 3, 1900 and it was blessed by Archbishop Kain on October 6, 1901. It is built in the Romanesque style with two domed towers flanking its facade. The present school building at 2419 North Grand was completed in 1926.

In 1879, a Catholic parish was formed to meet the needs of German residents in the area west of Grand Avenue in the Grande Prairie area. The new parish was placed in charge of Rev. Michael Busch and a temporary church, school and rectory were erected.

In May 1880, the new parish was dedicated in honor of the Holy Ghost. Rev. Busch was over-confident in the potential of the parish and invested in real estate as an inducement for home seekers and laid plans for a larger church. When the church basement was half finished, Rev. Busch found himself unable to meet his obligations and all of the property, except the small church buildings, were sold. Rev. Augustine Huettler was given the task of parish reorganization and raised enough funds to repurchase the unfinished church basement and set it up for services. Construction began later on the church building, which was dedicated in 1909 during the pastorale of Rev. John Rothesteiner.

This church, at North Taylor and Garfield Avenues, was designed in the Gothic sytle by Weisbecher and Hillebrand, with a cruciform plan and a rounded sanctuary. Holy Ghost Church was noted for its deep toned art glass windows and for two finely carved wood statues by the Tyrolese artist, Valentin Gallwetzer. Its parochial school was located at 4516 North Market Street. Due to changes in the population of the vicinity, the church was closed in the early 1970's and merged with the nearby Church of the Visitation. The former Holy Ghost Church building was razed in 1975.

The Church of Our Lady of Visitation was one of the first to be founded in the West End being preceeded only shortly by Holy Ghost Church. As the only other church available was St. Teresa's on Grand Avenue, this circumstance led to the formation of Visitation parish in 1882.

Archbishop Kenrick commissioned Rev. Edward Fenlon to organize a church and word of this reached Samuel Cupples, a prominent Methodist layman, who offered a two acre tract at Taylor and Evans Avenues as a site for the church. This offer was graciously accepted by the Archbishop and a frame building was erected thereon to serve the parish's thirty families. This church was dedicated on November 9, 1882 and contained a bell which was also a gift of Mr. Cupples. A parochial school was built in 1883, followed by a rectory and a convent. Father Fenlon was succeeded by Rev. Edward Dempsey in 1907 and two years later the cornerstone of the present church was laid. The new building was dedicated by Archbishop Glennon on November 11, 1909.

It was designed by Tom P. Barnett in the Tudor Gothic style at a cost of $125,000. Constructed of red brick with Bedford limestone trim, the interior featured an arched beam ceiling with oak furnishings and altars of Bianchi marble. In 1920, Rev. Joseph D. A. Collins, a student of church architecture and designer of St. Luke's Church in Richmond Heights, became pastor of Visitation parish. Father Collins created the design of the present parochial school which was built at a cost of $76,000. In 1934, at the time of its jubilee celebration Visitation parish had about 700 families.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Matthew the Apostle was founded in 1893 by Rev. Joseph T. Shields, who was commissioned by Archbishop Kenrick to establish a parish in the Fairgrounds district. The territory around the present site of the church, at 2715 North Sarah Street, was then a dairy farm known as "Steiger's Pasture". As a canvass of the area showed 150 families as potential members, Father Shields purchased a section of the pasture about one half block in area and erected a small frame church seating 500 persons.

In 1893, no houses stood between the church and the Fairgrounds to the north, but as the parish grew rapidly, by 1905 Father Shields decided to build a new church. Plans for the new Gothic edifice were prepared by architect Joseph Conradi and the $150,000 building was dedicated on September 22, 1907. The parochial school began in a one story building in 1902 and in 1925 it occupied the original rectory which had been moved back on the lot. A new rectory was completed in 1925 and during the early 1930's the church's interior was extensively redecorated with ceiling frescoes. Its altar and rail are of Carrara marble and paintings by Matthew Hastings decorate the inside of the building.

In September 1881, the status of St. Alphonsus Church became that of a parochial church and a large territory bounded by Easton, Washington, Compton and Taylor Avenues was assigned to it. About ten years later it was decided to create a new parish from the western end of St. Alphonsus parish, comprising the area between Sarah and Taylor Avenues. Prime mover for the project was Rev. John T. J. Tuohy who erected a small frame chapel at Finney and Grand Avenues. It was dedicated in honor of St. Paul the Apostle on .January 10, 1892. Rev. Tuohy was appointed pastor of St. Patrick's in 1896 and was succeeded at St. Paul's by Rev. O. J. McDonald.

The new pastor soon found the location unsuitable and moved the church to Page Boulevard and Whittier Street in 1897. It was renamed in honor of St. Ann and the old St. Paul's Church was demolished. The church basement was dedicated for divine services on September 12, 1897 and the upper marble sanctuary was dedicated on May 13, 1910. St. Ann's parish began to decline in the 1920's, but was revived later by the large black population that moved into the neighborhood and began attending the church.

One of the oldest Protestant churches in the Grande Prairie area is Antioch Baptist, a black congregation which was incorporated on May 6, 1884. The present church at Goode Avenue and North Market Street was erected in 1920. The church built its adjoining Christian Education building in 1954 at a cost of $235,000 and three years later opened its day nursery.

Another early black Baptist church was Burning Bush, which was established in 1906. Among black Baptist churches now occupying buildings formerly used by other denominations are the Hopewell M. B. Church, located in the former Wagoner Place Methodist building at 1527 Wagoner Place, and the Pleasant Green M. B. Church which uses the former Shaare Zedek synagogue at 4270 Page Boulevard. The West Side Baptist Church has been located at 4647 Page for many years. Nearby was the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church which was at Euclid and Page before 1904 and was later located at 1341 North Kingshighway. Delmar Baptist Church occupied a building at Delmar and Pendleton from 1892 until 1916, when it was sold to the First Christian Church. First Christian was later located in the former Fountain Park Congregational Church at 4950 Fountain Avenue, which is now occupied by the Centennial Christian Church. First Christian's former home on Delmar now houses the Galilee Baptist Church.

Kingshighway Christian Church was founded in 1893 as a mission at Easton and Marcus Avenues by Rev. O. A. Bartholomew of Mount Cabanne Church. Shortly thereafter, it moved to Marcus Avenue and Hammett Place where it became known as the Beulah Christian Church and later as the Hammett Place Church. In 1918, it moved to a new church at Kingshighway and Labadie Avenue when the name was changed to Kingshighway Church. About 1929, the church merged with the old Second Christian Church under the present name of Memorial Boulevard Church. It is located adjacent to the St. Louis Christian Home. Second Church, which dated back to 1868, was originally the old North St. Louis Christian Church at Eleventh and Tyler Streets. Central Christian Church, a forerunner of the present Union Avenue Church, erected a building on Finney Avenue near Grand in 1887 and occupied it until its merger with the Mt. Cabanne Church in 1900. The combined groups became the Union Avenue Church upon moving to a chapel on the present site in 1904.

Plymouth Congregational Church was the fourth of its denomination to be founded in St. Louis. It grew out of the Hope Mission Sunday School, which was organized in Elleardsville in 1865 by Rev. William Porteus. Pilgrim Church became interested in sustaining the mission in 1868, secured a lot and began a fund to organize a church.

In July, 1869, a frame church building was dedicated on the west side of Belle Glade Avenue north of Parsons Street which is now North Market Street. Given the name of Plymouth Church, the building was 30 by 62 feet in size and could seat 300 persons. In 1919, Plymouth Church merged with the Fountain Park Congregational Church at 4950 Fountain Avenue. Fountain Park Church began as the Mayflower Mission Sabbath School at Grand Avenue and Lucky Street in 1867. As a mission of Pilgrim Church, a chapel was built on what is now Garfield Avenue west of Grand after organization of Mayflower Church in 1869. In 1876, the name was changed to Third Church and the building was moved again in 1882 to a site on the southeast corner of Grand and Page, where the Gothic frame structure was refitted and enlarged. During the early 1890's, a brick church replaced the frame one on the Page Avenue corner, but changing neighborhood conditions led the church to make a westward move. This was done in 1895 by merging with the Aubert Place Church, which was then erecting a building at Fountain and Aubert Avenues. The name of Fountain Park Church was adopted for the combined societies.

Fairground Mission Sunday School, formed by the old Third Church in 1877, later became the Church of the Redeemer and merged with the Union Church in 1911, which as the United Church, joined Fountain Park Church in 1918. The latter church's building, dedicated in 1896, is a Romanesque structure with a tall stone tower and three wings. In 1936, the edifice was sold to the First Christian Church.

St. Peter's German Evangelical Church, which was located at Warne and St. Louis Avenues from 1915 until 1974, had its origin as the North Church at Sixth and Franklin in 1846. Four years later, it moved to 14th and Carr Streets and in 1907 to Swan and Newstead before locating on St. Louis Avenue. Since 1974 the church has been located in Ferguson. Also in Ferguson, is the Immanuel United Church of Christ which occupied a building at Maple and Euclid Avenues for many years.

Faith United Lutheran Church was formed in 1925 by a group of Lutherans who were also Masons and could see no wrong in a Christian being affiliated with a fraternal order. From 1926 until it moved into its own home, Faith Church held its services at Mount Moriah Masonic Temple. Beginning as an independent church, it later affiliated with the Illinois Synod of the United Church.

After merging with Reformation United Church, the Faith group made plans to erect a church building on the corner of Kingshighway and Terry Avenue. This lot had previously been acquired by the Reformation Church. Cornerstone laying ceremonies took place on August 17, 1930 and the completed edifice was dedicated on March 15, 1931. It was designed by Aegerter and Bailey in the late perpendicular Gothic style. Built of brick with terra-cotta trim, the building's interior has a massive beamed ceiling and towering columns. Faith Church is now located in Ferguson and the building on Kingshighway is occupied by All Saints Episcopal Church.

St. Phillip's Evangelical Lutheran Church at 2424 Goode Avenue is a descendant of the Carr Street Mission and has advocated integration since its move to the Ville area in 1926. It has maintained a bi-racial ministry. In 1966, St. Phillips' constructed its present modern building on the Goode Avenue site.

Records show that two English Lutheran churches were located in the Grande Prairie area. These were Grace Church on the southwest corner of Warne and Cozens Avenues in 1875 and Mt. Calvary Church, which was situated at 1605 North Euclid from before 1904 until after 1925.

Shaare Zedek Jewish congregation occupied a synagogue at Page Boulevard and West End Place from the early 1920's until 1951 when it moved to 5470 Delmar. It is now located at 829 North Hanley Road.

St. James A.M.E. Church at 4301 St. Ferdinand Avenue was founded in 1884 and has been an inspirational leader in its community for many years. The church led the way to the building of James House, a ten story facility for more than 200 elderly persons at 4310 St. Ferdinand. St. James raised $45,000 of the total construction cost of $2,700,000 for the Federal Housing and Urban Development project, which is administered by the St. Louis Housing Authority. Other nearby churches and institutions assist in the operation of the home, including entertainment and activity programs.

Epworth Methodist Church began as a mission in a small school house on Easton Avenue, west of Grand in 1872. In 1875, a site was purchased at the northern corner of Goode Avenue and North Market Street, where a frame chapel was dedicated on November 15, 1875. In 1876, a church was organized as the Goode Avenue M.E. Church with Rev. R. S. Stubbs as pastor. The chapel was replaced by a brick church in 1886. In 1908, continued growth caused the church to relocate to Maffitt and Warne Avenues, where a new building was dedicated on June 5, 1910. Upon occupancy, the name was changed to Chouteau Place M. E. Church and later to Epworth Church. The Gothic style church is built of brick with stone trim. Epworth Church later merged with Winsor Church in Baden and its old home is now occupied by Asbury Methodist Church.

Salem German Methodist Church, which dates back to 1841, moved from 15th and Wash Streets to Page and Pendleton in 1906. That church was sold to a Jewish congregation in 1924 and one year later Salem Church occupied its new building at North Kingshighway and Cote Brilliante Avenue. About that time a previous mission, Gano Avenue Church, was reunited with Salem, and in 1925 the German and English St. Louis Conferences merged resulting in the change from German services to English. Other churches which sprang from Salem and later rejoined it were Zoar in 1922, Eden in 1937 and Elmbank in 1943. Salem Church is now located in St. Louis County and its old home on Kingshighway is occupied by St. John's A.M.E. Church.

The inability of Grande Prairie residents to reach the nearest Methodist churches because of bad roads, led to the eventual founding of Wagoner Place Church. With assistance from Centenary Church, a group of about 20 persons began holding services in a store at Taylor and North Market in 1890. Younger members of this group organized the first unit of what was to become the Epworth League in the Southern Methodist Church. Need for a permanent home for the rapidly growing congregation led to the erection of a chapel at Taylor and Maffitt Avenues late in 1891. Jewett Wagoner, a member of the group, donated a lot for a permanent church at 1527 Wagoner Place and on July 22, 1894, the new church was dedicated and named in honor of its benefactor. Wagoner Place Church occupied this building until 1945, when it was sold to the Hopewell M. B. Church.

The Page Avenue M. E. Church South occupied a chapel on Page near Grand from 1877 until after 1883. Among other Methodist churches in the Grande Prairie area is the Scruggs Memorial C.M.E. at Spring and Cook Avenues, in a building erected in 1925. Originally, this was the location of the Cook Avenue M.E. Church which was founded in the 1880's. In 1952, the Parish Chapel A.M.E. Church was located at 2407 Belle Glade Avenue and is presently at 800 Union Boulevard.

The Third United Presbyterian Church at 2426 Union Boulevard began as a Sunday School in 1891 at Kisker Hall at Newstead and North Market. A congregation was soon organized and a church site was acquired at the southwest corner of Wagoner Place and North Market Street. Services were held at Marcus Hall at Easton and Marcus until 1893 when the new church was completed and named Wagoner Place United Presbyterian Church. The present site at Union and Highland was acquired in 1912 and services were held in a mission building there until completion of the present church in April, 1916, when the name of Third United Church was adopted. The church is built of brick with terra cotta trim and later an educational building and gymnasium were added to it.

North Presbyterian Church was founded in 1845 and erected a church at Eleventh and Chambers Streets in 1857. It remained there until after 1904 and in 1925 was holding services in the North Side YMCA. After that, it occupied a building at 3965 St. Louis Avenue for many years, which later became the home of the First Church of the Nazarene. The Nazarene Church was previously in the old First Christian Church at 4300 Delmar in 1936 and moved to the St. Louis Avenue building in the early 1950's. Other Presbyterian churches in the area included the Brank Memorial at Page and Aubert and the Cook Avenue Church at Sarah and Cook from before 1904 until after 1925. The First United Presbyterian was located at Newstead and Morgan (Delmar) during that same period.

Protestant Episcopal Church services were first held in Elleardsville in November, 1868, in a room over a grocery store on Victoria (Aldine) Avenue. The church's first building was completed in 1870 at Whittier and North Market Streets where St. James P.E. Church was organized on March 5 of the same year. The congregation's second church was built at Goode and Cote Brilliante Avenues in 1888 and in 1900, it erected its third home at that intersection. The building was erected by Mr. and Mrs. E.C. Simmons in memory of their daughter and became known as St. James Memorial Church. This church was moved stone by stone and rebuilt at Euclid and Washington Avenues in 1910, following a merger with the Church of the Redeemer.

All Saints Episcopal Church at 2831 North Kingshighway, now occupies the former home of the Faith United Lutheran Church. It was previously located at Locust Street and Garrison Avenue and was at 2135 Washington in 1904.

Image - St. Theresa of Avila roman Catholic Church at grand and North Market St.
Image - Antioch Baptist Church at Goode Avenue and North Market Street
Image - Rev. James E. Cook, pastor of the Antioch Church from 1946 until his death in 1961