Old North St. Louis


The oldest of the Roman Catholic churches of the Near North Side was St. Patrick's at Sixth and Biddle Streets. Its cornerstone was laid in 1843 and the church was dedicated in 1845. It was originally a Gothic brick structure with a 190 foot spire, which was destroyed by the tornado of 1896. The church was built by Francis Saler on a site donated by Mrs. Ann Biddle. Its interior was quite ornate with an elaborate marble altar, said to have been one of the nation's finest in the 1880's. Its Irish parish was the most populous in the city in 1883, but declined in size in later years although infused with other nationalities.

Father Timothy Dempsey, who became pastor of St. Patrick's in 1898, was noted for his work among the City's poor and for his hotel for homeless men. His work was carried on by his successor Msgr. Jimmy Johnston.

The church was remodelled in the Spanish style in 1936 and was reluctantly closed and razed in 1973, when the archdiocese concluded that it would be too expensive to repair. St. Patrick's school was located on the west side of Seventh Street between Biddle and Carr Streets and was completed in 1872 at a cost of $75,000.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church at Eleventh and Biddle Streets had its inception in 1840, when it was established by the Jesuits of St. Louis University for use of German Catholics near the college, which was then located at Ninth Street and Washington Avenue. It was started in St. Aloysius Chapel on the university grounds and, when St. Francis Xavier College Church was completed at Ninth and Lucas in 1843, the chapel was given over to the German Catholics.

The site of the present church was also donated by Mrs. Ann Biddle, and its cornerstone was laid in 1844. The ionic style church, designed by George Purvis, had a 150 foot spire and was completed in 1846. Originally facing Eleventh Street, the church was remodelled during the 1860's to face on Biddle Street, enlarged and was finished with an elaborate interior. The fine altar was donated by parishioners in thanks for being spared in the cholera epidemic of 1866. St. Joseph's has also been accepted by the Vatican in recognition of a miracle, which took place there. The imposing facade and twin bell towers of the church were added in 1881 making it an outstanding example of Baroque architecture. The domes and cupolas were removed in 1954 due to structural failures. The parochial schools were in several three story buildings on Eleventh Street near O'Fallon. They were built between 1857 and 1862 at a cost of $60,000.

Church and school attendance has been affected by the declining neighborhood and the church's continued existence is now considered precarious.

St. Liborius German Catholic parish was organized as an offshoot of St. Joseph's in 1855. A church was built at Hogan and North Market Streets in 1857 and schools were erected in 1859 and 1865. The present church as completed in 1889 and featured a 265 foot stone lace-work steeple similar to that of Freiburg Cathedral in Germany. This was removed in 1966. The present school was built in 1886 and the rectory in 1890. The church is notable for its imported altar and stained glass windows.

St. Michael's, an Irish-American parish, was founded in 1849 as a companion church of St. Patrick 's. The church at 2200 North Eleventh Street was completed in 1855 and was razed in 1957 to make way for the Mark Twain Expressway. After that the congregation met in the parish school building at 2501 North Eleventh Street until it was closed in 1975 because of a decline in parishioners.

Other old Irish parishes are those of St. Bridget of Erin and Lawrence O'Toole. The former was founded in 1853 on Jefferson Avenue and Carr Street and the present church was dedicated in 1860. Presently, the church offers a social improvement program for area residents, under the direction of Father John Shocklee.

St. Lawrence O'Toole parish was founded by Father James Henry in 1855 as a mission from St. Patrick 's. The first church was dedicated in December 1855 and was replaced by a later structure across the street at the southwest corner of 14th and O'Fallon Streets in 1865. The parish declined to such an extent that the church was sold by the archdiocese in 1948. It is now used as a truck repair garage.

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Church at 25th and University Streets was established in 1871. The stone church which had a colossal statue of its namesake surmounting its dome, was completed in 1899, as a monument to its founder, Rev. James J. McCabe. One of the altars was given by descendants of Dennis Sheehan, the first "king" of Kerry Patch in 1855.

St. Augustine's Catholic church was organized in 1874 by Rev. Henry Jaegering and the first church was dedicated in 1875. Rapid parish growth made the erection of a larger church necessary and the present monumental edifice at 3114 Lismore Street was completed in 1897. It is built in the 13th century Gothic style of architecture.

St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Catholic church at 1407 North 20th Street was the first of its kind in the city. The parish was organized in 1879 for Poles then residing in the Kerry Patch area. Their first church, staffed by Franciscan fathers, was completed in 1882. The present church, erected at a cost of $150,000 was dedicated in 1892. St. Stanislaus became the mother church for three other Polish Catholic parishes in St. Louis.

One of the earliest Protestant churches in the Near North Side area is the Fourth Baptist at 1301 Sullivan Avenue. It had its origin as a mission of the Second Baptist Church in 1851. A church building on North Twelfth Street between Benton and North Market Streets was dedicated in 1862, previously the members had worshipped in the Sturgeon Market. A small church was built on the present site in 1887 and was succeeded by the existing church in 1924. It was designed by Oliver Tucker and was valued at $70,000 in 1929. The Fourth Baptist Church is well known for its Sunday School and work with young people.

The Zion Evangelical and Reformed Church was located for many years at 25th and Benton Streets. The structure there was dedicated in 1872, succeeding an earlier church at 23rd and Montgomery Streets, that was occupied soon after the church's founding in 1868, by members of the old St. John's and St. Peter's churches who desired a location closer to their homes. The church is now located in north St. Louis County.

Other Evangelical churches formerly in the area were St. Peter's at 15th and Carr Streets and St. John rs at 14th and Madison Streets, which later moved to 4130 North Grand Boulevard.

Zion Lutheran Church was an offshoot from the Immanuel Church, which built a school at 14th and Warren Streets in 1859. The first Zion Church was built at 15th and Warren in 1860, and the congregation moved to the present church at 21st and Benton Streets following its dedication in 1895. The impressive limestone structure in the German Gothic style was designed by Albert Knell at a cost of $83,725. Its auditorium seats 1400 and has an elaborate altar of Italian marble. The Zion school on Benton Street was begun in 1909 and enlarged in 1929.

St. Paul's Methodist Church South, had its beginning in 1838 as the Mound Mission of the old Fourth Street Church. Services were held in the Washington Chapel on Mullanphy Street near Second. The 1844 flood caused a move to Broadway near Mound Street. The church's affiliation with the Southern Church came about this time due to dissension in Methodism over the slavery issue. St. Paul's first permanent home, called the Mound Church, was built at Tenth and Chamber Streets in 1850. After several moves the present site at 1927 St. Louis Avenue was purchased in 1871 and the church was dedicated in 1875. It was succeeded by the present structure in l902.

The Trinity Methodist Church was founded in 1856 and its first permanent home, known as Simpson Chapel, was built at Tenth and North Market Streets in 1857. It was the only Methodist Church that was not disorganized during the stormy Civil War period in St. Louis. In 1870, the chapel was replaced by a church on the same site and renamed Trinity. The membership moved in 1916 to an old German church building at 1227 Tyler Street. Its pastor in 1915, Rev. Thomas E. Greene, was the founder of the Goodwill Industries of St. Louis. The Trinity Church building on Tyler Street was sold in 1956 and the congregation merged with the Concord Methodist Church in South St. Louis County.

Grace Episcopal Church was organized in 1845 on a site in the old Village of North St. Louis. This site, called Circle No. 3, was set aside for church purposes by the village's founder, Col. William Chambers. In 1846, a cross shaped wooden church was begun on the site and an adjoining cemetery was consecrated. The church, which was built on high ground, was finally completed in 1851. In 1881 the church was cut down to street grade and the building was enlarged to a seating capacity of 700. Its front was changed from east to south at that time. In subsequent years, Grace Church weathered several financial crises but by 1910 its position was so poor that it resigned its charter. Bishop Daniel Tuttle refused to let the church die and linked it with the Holy Cross Mission. Grace Church assumed the status of a mission and engaged in much settlement work through Holy Cross House, whose name was later changed to Grace Hill House. The wooden church was replaced by a Norman Gothic stone edifice in 1924, through a $50,000 legacy to Bishop Tuttle who gave it to Grace Church. Grace Hill House and its clinic provide social services in its neighborhood.

Greeley Presbyterian Church at 2240 St. Louis Avenue began as a mission of the Second Presbyterian Church. It was an outgrowth of the Protestant Free School, whose members were mainly Presbyterians, which was founded in 1840 at Sixth and Carr Streets. The congregation moved to 14th and Carr and its continued growth made larger quarters necessary. The Biddle Market Hall was secured and enlarged under the direction of Thomas Morrison.

As the school flourished, a church known as the First Independent Church of St. Louis was organized in 1864. A site for the church's tabernacle was purchased at the southwest corner of 16th and Carr Streets. The cornerstone was laid in 1865, but after $37,000 had been spent, the structure was sold under a mortgage foreclosure. The property was then purchased by Carlos S. Greeley, who undertook a drive to complete the church, which was accomplished in 1880.

Neighborhood changes led to a move in 1909 to the former Zion Lutheran Church at Blair Avenue and Warren Street. The church then assumed its present name in honor of its benefactor. With help from the Second Church, the Greeley Church completed its present brick and stone Gothic building in 1930.

Fellowship Center at 1121 North Ninth Street had its inception in 1936 at Ninth and Tyler Streets. It began under the auspices of the Missouri Welfare League and later under the Y.W.C.A., which was forced to withdraw in 1942 due to wartime pressures. In the next year, the Center was resumed as a social program of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, in an effort to develop understanding among the area's diverse racial and cultural groups. As the Center's programs widened, the need for a new building became evident by the early 1950's. A location adjacent to the Cochran Gardens Housing Project was chosen and the present Center was dedicated there in 1955.

Paralleling the progress of the Fellowship Center has been the Christ in the City United Church of Christ. It began in 1953 at the Ninth and Tyler location and moved into its present building at the Fellowship Center site in 1965. At the time of its completion, it was said to be the first new church to be built near downtown in fifty years. It marks a close relationship between the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ, who jointly sponsor the Church and Center.

Image - St. Joseph's Shrine
Image - St. Liborious Church
Image - Most Sacred Heart Church
Image - St. Augustine's Church
Image - St. Stanislaus Church
Image - 4th Baptist Church
Image - Zion Lutheran Church