HTML> History of St. Louis Neighborhoods - Lafayette Square

Lafayette Square


The Lafayette Park Baptist Church was originally the Park Avenue Baptist Church, which was founded in 1868 on Park Avenue near Twelfth Street. Due to an increase in membership it was decided to seek larger quarters in 1888 and a site was purchased at the southeast corner of Lafayette and Mississippi Avenues. The present name was adopted a year later when the new church was occupied. The church was badly damaged in the 1896 tornado and services were temporarily held in the Y.M.C.A. Hall at 1800 South 18th Street. By late 1896 the church was rebuilt at the same site, at the rear of the lot facing Lafayette Avenue. In 1923 an annex was added with the entrance on Mississippi Avenue. Three years later the church was again enlarged to accommodate its increased membership. In 1933 the church had 1300 members with 1400 pupils enrolled in its Sunday School.

A church known as Wesley Chapel founded in 1843 formed the beginning of the present Lafayette Park Methodist Church. It was located on Paul Street north of Hickory Street and moved in 1848 to the northeast corner of Eighth Street and Chouteau Avenue. The church was destroyed by a storm while under construction but was rebuilt and dedicated in 1850. Ihis building was replaced by a larger building in 1873, at which time the name was changed to Chouteau Avenue Methodist Church, South. The congregation moved again in 1888 to Lafayette and Missouri Avenues and adopted the church's present name. The church was unroofed and badly damaged by the tornado in 1896 and services were temporarily held in the Y.M.C.A. and later in the rebuilt chapel. The present stone church, fronting on Lafayette Avenue, was completed in 1900 after designs by architect Theodore C. Link.

Lafayette Park Presbyterian Church was founded in 1878 as a colony of the Walnut Street Church. A site was purchased at the southwest corner of Missouri Avenue and Albion Place facing Lafayette Park on the west. The church building, designed by John H. Maurice, was occupied early in 1884. Many of the church's members came from the old Chouteau Avenue Church which had disbanded in 1875. As in the case of its sister churches in this area, the Presbyterian church was unroofed and damaged by the 1896 tornado. Through fund raising efforts by its minister, Dr. Samuel C. Palmer, the building was rebuilt in its original modified Gothic design in cut stone.

The Tyler Place Church was formed as a colony of the church in 1896. Lafayette Park Presbyterian Church occupied the building until 1946 when it merged with the Tyler Place Church. The church is now occupied by the Glad Tidings Temple of the Assembly of God. An offshoot from the Unitarian Church of the Messiah was formed in 1868 as the Church of the Unity. A corner lot at Park and Armstrong Avenues was purchased for $12,500 and a stone Gothic chapel was dedicated there in 1870. The Church of the Unity remained at this location until 1926 when the building was sold to a Lithuanian Catholic parish. The Unitarians occupied their new church at 5015 Waterman Avenue in 1917.

The first Protestant Episcopal Church in South St. Louis was organized in 1841 on the upper floor of a fire engine house on Second near Plum Street. A brick church was built on leased ground at Fifth and Spruce streets. This was replaced by another brick structure at the southeast corner of Sixth and Spruce in 1853. This property was sold to an Italian Catholic congregation in 1871. The Episcopalian Church, known as St. John's, began the erection of a new structure at the northeast corner of Hickory and Dolman streets in 1870. A deeper foundation was required when it was found to be above an abandoned quarry. The church, designed by architect F. W. Raeder, was completed in 1872 and was consecrated in 1889. The brick and stone edifice with its tall spire dominated the neighborhood until it was wrecked in the 1896 tornado. Only the altar and the chancel furniture were spared. However, the church was rebuilt and continued to serve the congregation until 1903 when the present St. John's Church on Arsenal Street west of Grand was occupied. The old building on Dolman Street is now occupied by a Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.

Image - Church of the Unity at Park and Armstrong Avenues
Image - Former Lafayette Park Prespyterian Church at Missouri Avenue and Albion Place
Image - the Lafayette Park Methodist Church at Laffayette and Missouri Avenues