Midtown


Churches

In addition to St. Francis Xavier Church, two other Roman Catholic churches were located within the Midtown area. one of these is St. Henry's at 1230 California Avenue, which was organized as a German parish in 1885 by Rev. John A. Hoffmann. Its first church was dedicated on September 13, 1885. It was destroyed in the tornado of 1896, but was rebuilt. The present church was completed in May, 1910, on the occasion of the parish's twenty-fifth anniversary. The church is of the Romanesque style of architecture and has a rose window in its facade. Its main tower rises in an octagonal shaft from a square base. On the interior St. Henry's Church is notable for its finely carved hardwood altar.

St. Malachi's Roman Catholic Church at the southeast corner of Clark and Ewing Avenues was completed in 1859. It was a stone and brick structure in the English Gothic style and had a richly frescoed interior. A boys parochial school directed by the Christian Brothers adjoined the church and there was a girls school in the nearby St. Philomena's Orphan Asylum. The parish declined in the early 1930's due to the changing population patterns, but was revived through the efforts of Rev. James P. Johnston, who took charge in 1932. About twenty years later, the church was razed during demolition in the area for the Mill Creek Valley renewal project.

The Third Baptist Church at Grand and Washington originated as an offshoot of the Second Baptist Church in 1850. Its purpose was to provide "A Baptist church in the western part of the ci ty." The congregation's first place of worship was in a hall on Market Street near 13th. A site was purchased at 14th Street and Clark Avenue in 1854, and a chapel was erected there. A church was dedicated on the site in 1866. It could seat 800 persons and cost $45,000. The encroachment of commercial and industrial uses in the vicinity led to a movement to relocate the church westward. In 1885, a church on the present site was occupied. It was a Gothic edifice built of rough cut stone and served the church well for many years. Once again its site became surrounded by commercial uses with the development of the Midtown business district. However, the church elected to remain there and, in 1953, the present large modified Gothic church and supporting structures were built around the older building. Its membership became the largest in the city during the long and popular pastorate of Rev. C. Oscar Johnson.

Central Christian Church, which occupied a church at the northeast corner of 23rd and Washington in 1875, was formed by members of the First Christian Church who withdrew because of dissension over installation of an organ in the older church. They first met in a hall at 14th and St. Charles Streets before moving in 1875. After the 23rd Street property was sold in 1879, the church met in various halls until 1887 when it dedicated a new structure on Finney Avenue near Grand Boulevard. It eventually became the Union Avenue Chiistian Church in 1904.

Two Congregational Churches have been located in the Midtown area. The present First Congregational, then known as the First Trinitarian Church, moved from its former location at Tenth and Locust Streets to a wooden chapel at Grand and Delmar in 1879. In 1885, the present stone church building at that location was occupied by the congregation. The Church had a policy of "following the homes of its members" so that in 1915 a chapel and school were occupied at Wydown Boulevard and University Lane near Washington University. The building on Delmar became the home of the Union Methodist Church.

Pilgrim Congregational Church grew out of the Pilgrim Sabbath School, organized in 1853 in a frame house on the northwest corner of Garrison Avenue and Morgan Street. In 1854, it occupied a one story brick building at 2910 Morgan (now Delmar). As the result of a meeting held in 1865 to consider a new school and church, a lot at the southeast corner of Washington and Ewing was purchased. In 1866, a brick chapel was built there and the new church was organized. A stone church building, designed by Henry L. Isaacs, was dedicated in December, 1872. Four years later a tower and spire, containing a clock and chimes, were added.

In 1907, a move was made to the present location at Union and Kensington Avenues, at which time the old church on Washington and Ewing was turned over to the Tabernacle Baptist Church, a black congregation. It is now occupied by the Central Baptist Church, in a structure that was rebuilt in 1975.

Several Jewish congregations had homes at various times in the Midtown area. The United Hebrews had a synagogue on the southwest corner of 21st and Olive Streets. from 1880 until 1903, when the congregation moved to Kingshighway and Enright. It established a cemetery on Jefferson Avenue near Mill Creek in 1844. It was closed in 1880 when the bodies were removed to Mount Olive Cemetery in St. Louis County. Congregation Shaare Emeth occupied a large-stone temple at the southeast corner of Lindell Boulevard and Vandeventer Avenue in 1895, after moving westward from 17th and Pine Streets. The congregation remained at the Lindell location until 1929, when it became necessary to raze the temple because of the widening of Vandeventer Avenue. The old Egyptian building at 6900 Delmar in University City was purchased and the present temple there was dedicated in 1932.

Congregation B'nai Amoona was located in the Midtown area briefly from '1906 to 1916, when it moved to Garrison and Lucas Avenues following its merger with the Scheerith Israel Congregation.

Temple Israel was founded in 1886 by a group of dissidents from Temple Shaare Emeth. It was organized at a meeting at the home of Moses Fraley at Beaumont and Pine Streets. At first worship was held in Memorial Hall at 19th and Locust Streets and later at the old Pickwick Theatre at Jefferson and Washington. A stone temple was completed in 1888 at Leffingwell Avenue and Pine Street. Soon after the turn of the century it was decided to move westward and the northwest corner of Kingshighway and Washington was purchased. Removal to the new Temple Israel took place in 1908. The old temple became a church for a black congregation and was ultimately razed in the Mill Creek demolition.

During the 1880's, at least seven churches were located in a portion of Stoddard's Addition that came to be known as "Piety Hill". One of these was the Union Methodist Church, which occupied a building on the southwest corner of Garrison and Lucas from 1882 to 1915. It was an outgrowth of Ebenezer Chapel, the cities first Methodist church, which disbanded in 1861 because of the northern sympathy of its members in a denomination that was predominantly pro-southern.

Re-organized in 1862 as a Union Methodist Church, it purchased the former Union Presbyterian Church at Eleventh and Locust. A large American flag flew from its tower during the Civil War, with an armed guard posted at the church entrance. After removal to the Garrison Avenue building, an outstanding social welfare program was begun, but was interrupted in 1911 when the church was destroyed by fire. Although the church was rebuilt, it was decided to move westward soon after.

In 1915, the former First Congregational Church at 3610 Delmar was purchased by Union Methodist, where it remained until 1952, when it merged with Christ Methodist and occupied a new building at 3543 Watson Road. The Delmar church was sold to a Pentecostal congregation in 1953.

Central Methodist Church, which was organized in 1869 in a hall at 18th and Wash Streets, moved into a new church on the northeast corner of 23rd and Morgan (now Delmar) in 1871. The two story brick building, valued at $48,000 had an auditorium seating 600 persons on its second floor. The church disbanded during the 18901s. The building was sold and the proceeds were divided among other Methodist churches. Members of the congregation followed the same route.

St. John's Methodist Church South began as the Asbury Chapel at 15th and Gay Streets in 1848. It was disbanded during the Civil War, when local steamboat men, who made up most of its membership, were forced to move from the city because of the blockade on the Mississippi River. The congregation was reorganized, sold its old chapel to a black Catholic group and sought a site farther west. A lot on the northwest corner of Ewing and Locust was purchased in 1865 and three years later a chapel, dedicated to St. John, was completed.

In 1869, the church was built and served the Methodists for more than thirty years. Another westward move was made in 1903 when the present church on the southwest corner of Kingshighway and Washington was occupied. The old church was sold for use of the Roman Catholic parish of St. Charles Borromeo, which was organized in 1903 and still occupies the brick church on Locust Street.

Second Presbyterian Church moved westward in 1870 to a new stone Gothic style building on Lucas Place at 17th Street, then a fashionable district.

The present Westminster Presbyterian Church, which was known as the Pine Street Church when it was located at Eleventh and Pine Streets, moved to a chapel on Grand Boulevard opposite Washington Avenue in 1880. At that time, the name was changed to Grand Avenue Church and the cornerstone of a new church was laid at the site in 1882.

It was built of rough-cut limestone in the Gothic style and had fine gable ends each 100 feet high. Its auditorium was shaped like an amphitheatre and seated 1200 persons. Built at a cost of $145,000, the church featured fine stained glass windows. It was occupied until 1914 when the church moved to a chapel at the present site at Union and Delmar. The old church was converted into a movie house and was razed in 1927 as part of the site for the Fox Theatre. Central Presbyterian Church moved to a temporary chapel at the northeast corner of Lucas and Garrison Avenues in 1873. A new church, designed by architect C.K. Ramsey, was completed there in 1876. It was designed in the Early English style with two towers over 120 feet high at its front. This church was used until 1906, when a move was made to the southeast corner of Delmar and Clara.

Washington-Compton Presbyterian Church occupied its large stone edifice at that intersection from 1880 to 1926. It began as a mission of the Second Church in 1859 and the congregation erected a church at 16th and Walnut which was leased from 1860 to 1862 by the Union Presbyterians, formerly located at Eleventh and Locust. The congregation dated back to 1849 and met in Wyman's Hall on Market Street until the Eleventh Street church was finished in 1854. They disbanded after sale of the church to the Union Methodists in 1862.

In 1864, the Walnut Street Presbyterian church occupied the 16th Street structure and continued to use it until the removal to Washington and Compton, when the name was also changed that title. In 1926, the church moved to Skinker Boulevard and Alexander Drive and adopted its present name of Memorial Presbyterian Church. The Compton Avenue building was remodeled in 1948 and now is occupied by the Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church.

The First United Presbyterian Church, founded in 1840 at Fifth and Pine Streets, occupied a church at 20th and Morgan 1873. In 1881 it organized a mission at Grand and Clark, which became the Grand Avenue United Church. It built a stone church there in 1895, which was sold to a pentecostal group in 1953 and was subsequently razed for highway improvements. Other Presbyterian churches in the area in 1875 were the Lucas Avenue Cumberland Church at Lucas and Channing, the Reformed Presbyterian at 21st and Gamble and the High Street Church at High (23rd) and Clark Avenue.

A prominent church in Stoddard's Addition was the Second Baptist which occupied a large stone edifice at the northwest corner of Locust and Beaumont from 1872 to 1907, when it moved to Kingshighway and Washington. Protestant Episcopal churches were well represented in the Midtown area for many years.

St. George's church dates from 1,845", when its first pastor was the former head of the defunct kemper College, Rev. E.C. Hutchinson. After meeting at various downtown locations for two years, a church was built on Locust Street west of Seventh in 1847. This was used until 1873 when a chapel was erected on the northwest corner of Beaumont and Chestnut Streets.

In 1874, a large stone church was occupied at the new site. Erected at a cost of $115,000 the structure was cruciform in shape and had a spire 145 feet in height. This building was destroyed by fire in March, 1891 and services were held at Mahler's Dancing Academy, on Olive east of Grand, until 1892, when a new church was opened at Olive and Pendleton. In 1928, St. George's Church merged with St. Michael's and moved to the latter's location on Wydown Boulevard in Clayton.

Trinity Episcopal Church was a mission of St. George's Church and was organized in 1855. The members met in rented halls until they occupied their own building on the northwest corner of Eleventh and Washington in 1861. This was destroyed by fire in 1865, but was immediately rebuilt. About 1883, Trinity Church moved to Channing and Franklin Avenues, remaining there until 1910 when it purchased a church building at 4005 Washington.

The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion was organized in 1865 as a mission Sunday school of Trinity Church. The membership met in a brick house on Morqan Street near Garrison Avenue. In 1869, a lot was purchased on Washington and Ewing, which was later exchanged for one at the northwest corner of Leffingwell and Washington, where in 1870. A new church at that site was opened for worship in 1877 and in later years became a center for social services. The church followed its members west in 1938 to a chapel at Delmar Boulevard and Jackson Avenue in University City.

St. Peter's Episcopal mission was founded in 1868 by Christ Church in a former skating rink hall on Olive Street near Compton Avenue. In 1872, it became a part of St. Peter's parish which was founded by Rev. Edward F. Berkley. The new church's first place of worship was in a hall at the northeast corner of Jefferson and Olive. This was used until a stone chapel was finished in 1873 at the rear of a lot at the northeast corner of Grand and Olive. This lot had been purchased a year previously for $150 per front foot.

Plans to erect a church there had to be abandoned because of the financial panic of 1876. In 1891, plans to move the church to Sarah and Westminster were abandoned when it was found that St. George's Church planned to build nearby. A lot at the southeast corner of Lindell Boulevard and Spring Avenue was obtained and a handsome Tudor Gothic stone church was completed in December, 1893. The church became debt free and was consecrated by Bishop Tuttle in 1919. The congregation remained at the Lindell location until 1949 when it moved to its present Colonial design church at Ladue and Watson Roads in Ladue.

After its members sold their old church at Ninth and Olive streets in 1872, the Unitarian Church of the Messiah met in various quarters until December, 1880 when they moved into their new unfinished church on the northeast corner of Locust Street and Garrison Avenue. One year later, the limestone English Gothic style edifice was completed at a cost of $109,000. Situated on a natural plateau, the church's 142 foot stone spire became a neighborhood landmark. By 1907, the increasingly commercial character of the Locust Street location made another westward move necessary. The church relocated in a new building on the northeast corner of Union Boulevard and Enright Avenue.

Christian Science began to attract attention in St. Louis in March, 1889, when a newspaper article described its healing practices. A small group held meetings in private homes until early in 1891, when it began holding services in Addington Hall at 1700 Olive Street.

Formal organization was achieved in 1894 when the group became known as the First Church of Christ, Scientist in St. Louis. Meetings were held at the Beethoven Conservatory at 1603 Olive Street until a small church building on Pine Street east of Leffingwell was completed and dedicated free of debt in November, 1895. The $32,000 structure could seat 350 and was the first Christian Science Church in Missouri. In 1872, the church outgrew its building and services were held in the Odeon Theatre until the new church on Kingshighway and Westminster was opened in 1904.

The New Jerusalem Society, also known as Swedenborgians, which dated back to 1842 in St. Louis, occupied a chapel on Lucas near Ewing from 1878 to 1891 when they moved to a church at North Spring Avenue. The St. Louis Ethical Society was organized in 1886 by Walter L. Sheldon and James Taussig. Philanthropic work began in 1888 when free reading rooms and a kindergarten were opened. A Self-Culture Hall was established at 18th and Wash Streets and in 1895, the Sunday Ethical School was started. Activities were temporarily suspended by the death of Mr. Sheldon in 1907. The Sheldon Memorial Hall at 3648 Washington was dedicated in 1912 from plans by Louis C. Spiering. It was known for its fine acoustics. The Society moved to St. Louis County in 1964.


Image-Temple Israel in the 1880s
Image-Former Grand Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1926.
Image-St. George's Episcopal Church in 1874.