Three Roman Catholic parishes are associated with the Yeatman neighborhood. These are St. Bridget of Erin, St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Leo. Earliest of these was St. Bridget's whose first church was erected in 1853 adjoining the site of the present church at the northeast corner of Jefferson Avenue and Carr Street. The present church was dedicated on December 2, 1860 and is built in a mixture of Gothic and Byzantine styles.
By the 1880's, the older brick church was used as a school for boys in charge of the Christian Brothers. The girl's school was situated in a four story building on the northwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and Carr Street. It had 12 rooms and a capacity of 700 pupils.
In 1883, the parish contained about 5,000 persons, mainly Irish from nearby Kerry Patch. For 36 years the parish flourished under the esteemed Father William Walsh. Remains of early settlers were interred in the church basement at the order of Archbishop Kenrick when the old Lucas Cemetery at Seventeenth and Franklin was removed. By 1933, one of the old parochial school buildings had been razed and the other accommodate a depleted enrollment. The original Irish residents had moved elsewhere and the congregation was then composed of diverse nationalities.
In-1927, after the Kenrick Seminary's building was destroyed by a tornado, that institution relocated at St. Bridget's and remained there until 1930 when it moved to its present location. St. Bridget's parish served the nearby public housing complexes before their decline and currently is in the midst of a predominantly black neighborhood.
St. Alphonsus Church at Grand and Finney Avenues was erected by the Redemptorist Fathers, one of whom, Father Louis Dold, prepared the building plans. These were later modified by architect Thomas Walsh. The structure was occupied in an unfinished condition on November 30, 1868 and was dedicated on August 4, 1872 by Bishop Ryan. It remained as a mission church until September 1, 1881, when it was created as a parish by Archbishop Kenrick.
The gounds front 389 feet on Grand Avenue with a depth of 430 feet along Cook Avenue. Built in the Gothic style, the building is popularly known as the "Rock Church" from its walls of rough dressed limestone. It is a large, impressive edifice 80 feet in width and 180 feet in length. Above the main entrance rises a tower and spire 225 feet in height; :flanked by two smaller towers each 75 feet high, above the aisle entrances. The church contains five altars, under the main one rests the relics of St. Abundius, a Roman martyr.
The cornerstone of the parochial school was laid in August, 1882. It was a three story brick building with a large hall on the upper floor. Due to declining enrollment this building was razed in recent years.
"Rock Church" is well known for its shrine of the Mother of Perpetual Help, originally built of wood in 1873 and replaced by a marble shrine in 1893. In 1894, the spires and bells were added to the church and a copper plated cross, 19 feet high and weighing 1,500 pounds was placed atop the center spire. The church's auditorium has three naves separated by rows of graceful Gothic columns. An interesting note is that while founded by Germans, the parish population was originally largely Irish.
St. Leo's Church was founded as the result of the golden jubilee of Pope Leo XIII, which was celebrated in St. Louis by a six mile long procession of 50,000 persons on Rosary Sunday in 1888. Rev. Jeremiah J. Harty, then assistant pastor of St. Bridget's saw opportunities for a new church in the, then, sparsely settled area to the north of Cass Avenue. He was appointed as pastor of the proposed church by Archbishop Kenrick and the first services were held in a modest structure on Twenty-third Street just north of Mullanphy Street about five weeks later.
Cornerstone laying ceremonies for the present church, on a lot adjoining the original structure, were held on September 1, 1889. The new building was of early English Gothic architecture with brick walls and three arched entrances The church auditorium was notahle_because it has no supporting columns. Its ceiling was hung from heavy arched beams. The St. Leo Church group of buildings was demolished in 1978.
Some years after completion of the church, the parochial school was erected at a cost of $50,000. During the pastorale of Rev. James T. Coffey (1904-1931), who was an ardent foe of liquor, a parish house called Temperance Hall was built next to the church. It was later used as a community center.
Beaumont Street Baptist Church was an outgrowth of the Jefferson Mission at Twenty-fifth Street and Franklin Avenue, which was established in 1859. The church was organized in 1866 with 57 members mostly from Second Baptist. Its meeting place was in a chapel at the northeast corner of Beaumont and Morgan Streets, a one story building seating 500 persons. In 1876, the church merged with Second Baptist and its hall was rented to the Bethlehem Evangelical Church and in 1879 was sold for conversion into a Turner Society hall.
Earllest of the black Baptist churches in St. Louis is the First Baptist organized in 1833 after the white congregation of tnat name became extinct. Its first pastor was the Rev. Barry Meacham, who came here from Virginia after purchasing his freedom from slave holders. As he prospered here as a cooper he was able to buy his family's freedom also.
By 1836, Rev. Meacham owned two city houses, a farm in Illinois and two steamboats. First Baptist's earliest location was on Almond (later Valentine) Street between Fourth and Fifth. In 1885, the congregation moved to the former Third Baptist Church building at 1320 Clark Avenue, where it remained until it occupied its present church at 3104 Bell Avenue in 1920.
An interesting facet of church relocations can be seen in the fact that the present home of the First Baptist Church was formerly occupied by another church with a background in the Yeatman area. That church is St. Mark's English Lutheran, which was organized in 1867 at the home of a member at 1116 North Twentieth Street. Its purpose was to form a Lutheran church where the services would be given in English rather than German. The first house of worship for the group was in a Doric style brick buidling at Wash Street and Elliot Avenue.
It was dedicated in January, 1872 after designs by C. S. Artaugh. Membership increased so rapidly that larger quarters became necessary and in 1880 a site at the southwest corner of Bell and Cardinal Avenues was acquired. The new church, designed in the English Gothic style by C. K. Ramsey, was dedicated on October 1, 1882. It featured an amphitheatrical shaped auditorium seating 800 persons. St. Mark's Church occupied this building until 1920, when it moved to the present location at 6337 Clayton Road. At that time the name of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church was adopted.
Image - St. Alphonsus Church
Image - First Baptist Church