Oak Hill


Churches

Holy Family parish in the Oak Hill district was organized by Rev. J. F. Reuther in 1898. A house on Wyoming Street was rented and its first floor fitted up as a chapel. The first mass was celebrated there on November 10, 1898, and the parish school began its work in the chapel rooms in January, 1899. The church site on the northwest corner of Humphrey Street and Oak Hill Avenue was purchased and construction began on the 125 by 350 foot lot in 1899. The church was dedicated on November 28, 1899, with final completion and erection of a sister's home accomplished in 1907. Parish growth made necessary the building of a four-room school addition and auditorium in 1912. Cornerstone laying ceremonies for the present church occurred on November 22, 1926, and the new building was dedicated by Archbishop Glennon on June 19, 1927. It was designed in the Romanesque style by Ludwig and Dreisoerner and is constructed of variegated granite with a massive appearance. The brick arch spanning the sanctuary is among the widest of its kind. The present school at 4132 Wyoming was completed in 1941, followed by the convent at 4161 Humphrey in 1956, and a parish center building at 4141 Humphrey in 1963.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist was an offshoot from the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows and was funded by Rev. John Peters. First services were held in a vacant store on Gravois Avenue near Itaska Street in February, 1914. A temporary brick church was completed in July, 1914, and the present church edifice, in the Italian style of architecture was dedicated in 1925. It is located at 4178 Delor Street and the parochial school is adjacent to it at 4172 Delor. The school was opened in September, 1914, with 234 pupils. An additional school building at 4158 Delor was opened in 1963. To the west of the Church, at 5015 Adkins Avenue, is the St. John the Baptist parochial high school, which was established during the 1930's. Its present buildings were erected in 1942 and 1968.

By 1930, the growth of St. Anthony's parish convinced Cardinal Glennon that a new church was needed to serve the western portion of that parish. Father George Dreher was appointed as the first pastor of the new parish of the Resurrection of Our Lord. A site at Meramec Street and Hydraulic Avenue was acquired and a multi-purpose building was erected, as was done by other newly created parishes during the depression. After some twenty years, additional parish growth made construction of a new building imperative. The present church, in the contemporary style, was designed by architects Joseph D. Murphy and Eugene Mackey. It has a parabolic floor plan and was dedicated in 1954. Its construction incorporated work of modern liturgical artists in similar fashion to that of guild artisans used in the erection of medieval cathedrals. Stained glass windows are the work of Robert Frei, the altar mural was done by Robert Harmon, sculpture by Hillis Arnold and the Stations of the Cross were designed by William Schickel of Loveland, Ohio. Landscaping was the work of Emmett Layton. A bapistry of lattice-like limestone is at the center of the church's facade and a tall tower at the apex of the parabola marks the location of the altar and houses four bells from Holland.

The oldest Protestant Episcopal Church in St. Louis is St. John's, now located at 3664 Arsenal Street. It was organized in 1841, and after occupying several downtown locations, it moved into a building at Hickory and Dolman Streets in 1872. This structure was badly damaged by the tornado of May, 1896, but was rebuilt and continued to serve the congregation until 1908. In that year, the present Tudor Gothic stone structure, which almost duplicates the design of its predecessor, was occupied. After its debt was lifted, the church was consecrated by Bishop Frederick F. Johnson on December 27, 1925. Rev. Arthur Brittain, who was the rector of St. John's in 1914, opened a home for older boys at 1900 Louisiana Avenue, in that year. At first called Griswold Hall, it was renamed in honor of its founder after his death in 1918, and was later taken over by the Episcopal home for children. In 1958, an addition was completed adjacent to St. John's Church.

Holy Innocents Episcopal Church occupied a frame church building at the northwest corner of Morganford Road and Tholozan Avenue in 1871. This building had been erected in 1856 and served as a union church for Methodists, Presbyterians and other denominations for fifteen years. Holy Innocents merged with two other parishes in 1939 to become St. Mark's Episcopal Church at 4712 Clifton Avenue. The old church was later occupied by the Morganford Church of Christ, which razed it in 1954 to erect their present building on its site.

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, now at Morganford Road and Chippewa Street, was organized by its first pastor, Rev. August Craemer, in 1865. It worshipped in an Episcopal church until 1868, when it occupied a frame church, seating 150, at its present location. In 1884, a red brick church was dedicated on the 31/2 acre site, at which time the congregation consisted of about 60 families. A separate parochial school building, facing Chippewa Street, was erected in 1905, with an addition in 1927. The present church, designed by Froese, Maack and Becker, was opened in 1949. A new school building, from plans by the same architects, was completed in 1966 at 3716 Morganford Road.

At present, the church has about 1,000 members. Another Evangelical Lutheran church in the area, is Advent, now located at Chippewa Street and Giles Avenue. In 1926, its church was situated at 3721 South Grand Boulevard. St. Paul's German Evangelical Church was organized in 1848 and occupied its first church building, at Ninth Street and Lafayette Avenue in February, 1850. After suffering adversity during the Civil War, the church's prospects improved in 1865, when a new parsonage was built and ground was acquired for a parochial school. A larger church, on the same site, was dedicated in 1874, but was wrecked by the tornado of 1896. After reconstruction of the church and school, the latter was discontinued in 1906. Under the leadership of Rev. Paul Press in 1910, a mission school was opened in a store at 3352 South Grand.

With its success assured, the school occupied a small chapel on the present site of the church at Giles Avenue and Potomac Street. The Church's present educational building was erected in 1923 and the old church was sold to a Slovak Catholic congregation. A new parsonage was completed in 1925, and until dedication of the present church in 1932, services were held in the auditorium of the educational building. All of the buildings in the present church group are built of brick and limestone trim in early English Gothic style. The church's interior has soft-toned walls, a heavily beamed ceiling and features a large carving of the Last Supper by Alois Lang. Another unit of the United Church of Christ in the Oak Hill area is Nazareth Church at Morganford and Tholozan. It was formed in 1903 by a group meeting in a rented cottage at Morganford and Miami Street. It met there until the present church was completed in 1906. By 1913, when Rev. George M. Poth took charge, the church's membership had declined and it was burdened with debt. Inspired by the new pastor, the church met the challenge and later a new addition was required. A more recent addition was completed in 1961.

Trinity United Church of Christ on the southeast corner of South Grand Boulevard and Itaska Street, was originally located at Michigan Avenue and Neosho Street, as early as 1898. It moved to its present building in 1931, and in 1954, a church school addition was completed adjacent to the church. The Evangelical Church of Our Redeemer at 6450 South Kingshighway has occupied its present building since 1927, and has occupied several locations in the vicinity since 1912. An addition was built to the south of the church about 1956. Richard M. Scruggs United Methodist Church at Grace and Fairview Avenues had its beginning as the Grand Avenue M. E. Church at Grand Boulevard and Connecticut Street in 1905. The present name was adopted when the church received money from the Methodist building fund to construct its new building in the late 1920's. These funds came from the sale of the former Scruggs Memorial M. E. Church at Spring and Cook Avenues, with the understanding that the proceeds would be used for the erection of another church with that name. Consequently, when the present church on Fairview Avenue was occupied in 1930, it adopted the Scruggs name.

Christy Memorial United Methodist Church, at Morganford Road and Neosho Street, was originally organized as the Beckville M. E. Church South in 1892. Its first services were held in Voyce's Hall at the southwest corner of Morganford and Chippewa. Later, a frame church was built at Morganford and Oleatha and by 1900, it was known as the Oak Hill M. E. Church. This building was moved in 1911, to the present church site, at which time it was named in honor of Calvin Christy. The present church building was completed in 1914, and in 1939, a gymnasium and classroom addition were erected. During the early 1960's, the parsonage was razed and a three-story educational and office building addition to the church was completed. Since the formation of the United Methodist Church in 1968, Christy Church has been a member of that denomination.

A major renovation of the church's facade and bell tower was made in 1974 at a cost of about $80,000. Oak Hill Presbyterian Church began in a frame church building at the corner of Bent Avenue and Humphrey Street in 1895. This original lot was donated by Mrs. Lucy Bent Russell. On March 17, 1907, the frame church was destroyed in a fire, and in the following summer, the first lot at the present site at Oak Hill Avenue and Connecticut Street was purchased. For some months after the fire, services were held in a lodge hall at Morganford and Connecticut. Later, a tent was raised for summer services on the new lot, but during cold weather, the congregation worshipped in a hall at Morganford and Juniata. The first building to be occupied at the Oak Hill Avenue site was a chapel, which was completed in September, 1911. Dedication of the present church building took place on June 20, 1920, and in the following year the manse was acquired. In October, 1954, a new educational building, joining the church to an adjacent annex, was dedicated. During the summer of 1969, the church sanctuary was renovated at a cost of $55,000. In 1943, Oak Hill Church sponsored the organization of the First Presbyterian Church of Affton as a mission.

One of the earliest Protestant church movements in the Oak Hill area was a mission of the Haven Street Methodist Church of Carondelet, which was said to have been established in the "coal diggin's" soon after the Civil War. Among other Protestant churches in the area is the Christy Park General Baptist Church in a building erected in 1961 at 6220 Gravois Avenue and the First Wesleyan Church at 4011 Tholozan Avenue.