By far the largest Catholic church in the area is the beautiful German Gothic edifice of Saints Peter and Paul at Eighth Street and Allen Avenue. This German parish was founded in 1849 by Rev. Simon Sigrist as a mission from St. Vincent de Paul. The original church was a one story frame building on the site of the present church and its school was begun in a residence on Geyer Avenue. A second church, costing $18,000, was built of brick on the same site in 1854. This building was demolished to make way for the present structure which was consecrated on December 12, 1875.
It is built of Grafton limestone after the design of Franz George Hempler and fronts 83 feet on Eighth Street with a depth of 204 feet. The spire is more than 200 feet in height. The church is lighted with fine stained glass windows and has three altars. It will seat 3,000 persons and cost $200,000.
The parochial school was conducted in a large story building adjoining the church on Eighth Street. The parish has a cemetery on Gravois Avenue near the city limits. Although severely damaged by the 1896 tornado, the church was rebuilt soon after. The parish presently serves about ten different nationalities and encourages sports and athletics.
One of the ethnic churches in the area is the Most Holy Trinity Slovak Catholic church at 1804 South Ninth Street with its school adjoining it to the south. Slovak immigrants to the area originally affiliated with the Bohemians of St. John Nepomuk parish, organizing a branch of their Catholic Slovak Union there in 1893. Five years later, they organized their own parish and purchased a former Baptist Church at Twelfth Street and Park Avenue. This church was demolished for the widening of Twelfth Street in 1924 and the church then purchased its present home from the St. Paul Evangelical congregation. This building was finished in 1897 replacing a previous structure that had been demolished in the tornado of 1896.
The St. Paul congregation moved to their present location at Giles Avenue and Potomac Street in 1924. Thy had established a chapel at that location in 1912. St. Paul's was organized in 1848 and built its first church at the South Ninth Street site in 1850. This was replaced in 1874 by the structure which was destroyed by the tornado.
The Bohemian Catholic Church of St. John Nepomuk is the oldest church of its nationality in America. It was founded in 1854 by the Rev. Henry Lipovsky. A frame church on the present site at Eleventh Street and Lafayette Avenue (formerly Soulard Street) was dedicated in 1855. It was replaced by the present church, which was completed in 1872 on a site donated to the congregation by Fr. Renaud, a French priest. The brick Gothic edifice was designed by Adolphus Druiding. Its adjacent school buildings were built during the 1880's. The church suffered much damage in the tornado of 1896, requiring extensive reconstruction. It served as an anchor to keep the Bohemian community of the area together to such an extent that its vicinity received the nickname of "Bohemian Hill".
The Croatian community in the Soulard area effected its first organization in 1897 when a Croatian Benevolent Society was formed. This eventually led to the founding of the parish of St. Joseph's Croatian Catholic Church in 1904 by the Reverend Oscar Suster. It purchased a former Jewish synagogue at 13th Street and Chouteau Avenue, refitted it and began holding services there in 1906.
The congregation purchased the former Ursuline Convent property at Twelfth Street and Russell Avenue in 1926. The new location occupied an entire city block and afforded space for a church, school, rectory, gymnasium and community center. It was dedicated by Archbishop Glennon in impressive ceremonies on April 26, 1928. St. Joseph's parish is one of the supporters of the Hessoun Orphanage at Fenton, Missouri.
The German Catholic Church of St. Agatha was organized in 1871 by Rev. J. A. Stroomberger when he found about one hundred families in the area willing to subscribe a total of $5,000 towards the erection of a church. A lot at the northwest corner of Eighth and Utah Streets was purchased and the church was dedicated on July 14, 1872 by Bishop Ryan. The two story brick structure had a school on its first floor with an auditorium seating 450 persons on the second floor. The cornerstone of the present church was laid in 1885 and in 1899 the transept, sacristy and sanctuary were added to the structure. A nuns' residence was built in 1892 and a new school and hall was completed in 1908.
The parish of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded in 1862 by Rev. Bernard O'Reilly. The cornerstone of the church at the northwest corner of Eighth and Sidney Streets was laid in May, 1862. The 40 by 100 foot building was designed by Robert Mitchell and was adjoined by a school and a parsonage. In 1890, the church's pastor sought to move to a new church at Sidney and Salena Streets. After completion in 1891, Archbishop Kenrick changed his mind about abolishing Assumption parish and designated the newer church as St. Agnes. After the dismemberment, Assumption parish still contained about 250 families. The parish has since been merged with that of St. Agatha.
The congregation of Holy Guardian Angels parish was organized in 1866 by Rev. M. Welby. The church on St. Agne Avenue between Chouteau Avenue and LaSalle Street was dedicated by Archbishop Kenrick on January 1, 1867. Its site was donated by John Dillon, one of the parishioners. The brick Gothic structure seated 450 persons. Like many downtown parishes, Holy Angels declined in population but by 1928 it maintained a parochial school of about 200 enrollment.
Trinity Lutheran Church at Eighth and Soulard Streets is the oldest church of its kind in St. Louis. It was organized in 1839 by a group of Germans seeking religious freedom which was unobtainable in their homeland in Saxony. They first met in the Christ Episcopal Church at Broadway and Chestnut Street. They moved into a church of their own on Lombard Street between Third and Fourth. After an arduous fund raising campaign during the Civil War, the congregation completed a new church on the present site in 1865. This church was destroyed by the 1896 tornado but was soon rebuilt into the present structure. Trinity Lutheran was the first church to join what is now the Missouri Synod, which was formed largely through the efforts of its pastor Rev. Carl F. W. Walther in 1847.
Other Lutheran churches in the area included the First German Lutheran Church which was located at Eleventh and Rutger Streets in 1875 and the St. Lucas Slovak Lutheran Church, which was organized in 1905 in the Trinity Lutheran School. St. Lucas Church moved to 1921 South Ninth Street in 1909. In 1914, after the merger of the St. Paul Friedens and Jesus Churches, St. Lucas purchased the former St. Paul Friedens Church at Thirteenth Street and Allen Avenue. In 1928, St. Lucas opened a parochial school and moved to its present location at 7100 Morganford Road about 1960.
The above mentioned Jesus Church was organized in 1894 at the Soulard Market Hall and in 1896, it occupied a church at Twelfth and Victor Streets. In 1913, Jesus Church merged with St. Paul's Friedens Church in the latter's building at Thirteenth Street and Allen Avenue and in 1914, sold the building to St. Lucas Slovak Lutheran Church.
The South German Evangelical Church, later known as St. Marcus Church, was founded in 1845 at the northwest corner of Jackson (Fourth) and Soulard Street, now Lafayette Avenue. It became St. Marks or St. Marcus Church in 1856 and in 1866, constructed a brick church on its original site. In 1915, the church moved to Russell and McNair Avenues.
The present Lafayette Park Baptist Church was organized in a store at Seventh Street and Chouteau Avenue in 1867. In the next year, known as the Park Avenue Baptist Church, it occupied a building at Twelfth Street and Park Avenue. In 1888, the church moved to its present location at Lafayette and Mississippi Avenues.
Two Jewish congregations worshipped at locations in or near the Soulard area at various times. The United Hebrew Congregation had quarters in a residence on South Broadway in Frenchtown between 1838 and 1848. The B'nai E1 Reformed Congregation met in rooms at Ninth and Lafayette after its founding in 1852 and moved to Fifteenth and Walnut Streets, remaining there until 1875 when they purchased the former Chouteau Avenue Presbyterian Church at the northeast corner of Eleventh Street and Chouteau Avenue. In 1906, the congregation moved to Spring and Flad Avenues.
The Eighth Street German Methodist Episcopal Church organized in 1864 and occupied a brick church structure on the southwest corner of Eighth and Soulard (now Lafayette) Streets as late as 1883.
The Chouteau Avenue M.E. Church South was organized as the Wesley Chapel in a residence on Convent Street in 1841. A small chapel was built on Paul Street between Chouteau Avenue and Hickory Street in 1844. It moved to a church on the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Chouteau Avenue. After being wrecked in a storm, the church was rebuilt in 1850 and served until it was demolished for a new brick church structure in 1873. At that time the name was changed to Chouteau Avenue Church.
The Marvin M.E. South mission was organized in a blacksmith shop in 1859 and later used rented rooms. In 1874, a frame mission building was dedicated at 2629 Menard Street. It presently is known as the Marvin Memorial Methodist Church and is located at 1129 Sidney Street.
Several Presbyterian churches existed in the Soulard Area during the nineteenth century. These included the South Presbyterian Church, which was the outgrowth of a mission organized in 1868 at 1322 South Second Street, with a church being founded on that site in 1875.
The Park Avenue Presbyterian Church was organized as a colony of the Second Presbyterian Church in the early 1860's. It built a church at Twelfth Street and Park Avenue which was sold to the Park Avenue Baptist Church in 1867. In 1868, the church merged with the Chouteau Avenue Presbyterian Church at Eleventh Street and Chouteau Avenue. The Chouteau Avenue was built in 1867 and was sold to the B'nai E1 Jewish congregation in 1875, at which time the Chouteau Avenue Church was dissolved.
The present Peters Memorial Presbyterian Church was founded in 1847 in a residence at Thirteenth Street and Park Avenue and the congregation met in homes until 1863 when a church was organized by the Presbytery. It was called the First German Church and met in the old Second Church at Fifth and Walnut Streets. In 1864, it moved to the South Mission at Ninth and Marion Streets and then to a store at the northeast corner of Tenth and Rutger Streets. In 1867, a chapel was built on the site and, in 1871, a church was constructed adjoining the chapel. This was wrecked in the 1896 tornado but was rebuilt. A new church was built in 1916, at Sidney Street and Minnesota Avenue and the old church became the Tenth Street Mission. In 1931, a newer church was erected adjacent to the Sidney Street Church, which was then renamed the Peters Memorial Presbyterian Church.
The Markham Memorial Presbyterian Church was organized in 1901 at 1614 Menard Street. Large scale removal of the population near the Menard Street location for the construction of the Third Street Highway made it impossible for the Markham Church to remain there. This resulted in a merger in 1958 with the Carondelet Presbyterian Church.
The Protestant Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd was organized in 1871 in a building on Seventh Street near Sidney. In 1873, a chapel was erected on South Eighth Street between Pestalozzi and Lancaster (Dorcas) Streets. It was enlarged in 1883 and in 1904 the congregation moved to 2838 Salena Street. It is now located at 1166 South Mason Road in St. Louis County.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church was founded as a mission in 1886 and met in stores in the vicinity of Seventh and Hickory Streets. In 1898, a church was built at Sixth and Rutger Streets and was organized as a parish in 1921. A new church to, serve the area near City Hospital was built at Fourteenth: Street and Park Avenue in 1961.
The Gravois Avenue Church of God at Thirteenth Street and Allen Avenue was purchased from the St. Lucas Slovak Lutheran Church in 1960 after removal of the latter church to Morganford Road. The church was originally St. Paul Frieden's Evangelical Church and was built in 1898. The Apostolic Pentecostal Church at Thirteenth Street and Gravois Avenue has been there since 1952.