St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church Part 1: Past, Present, and Future

By on September 11, 2018

From NextSTL:  Old St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church rises out of the weed-choked lots of the St. Louis Place neighborhood, just west of Parnell Street. There are not a lot of towering landmarks up this way, particularly with the demolition of the nearby Bethlehem Lutheran in 2014 – so the stark, Gothic spire of the church, towering 150 feet above the empty streets, presents all the more abrupt interruption in the landscape.

It sits along the almost anonymous one-block stretch of Lismore Street where it intersects with Hebert Street. Hebert possesses a handful of houses that are still occupied, their owners proudly and resolutely holding out. To the south of the church, on Sullivan, is a different story. The houses are all vacant, mostly hit by brick thieves, and there’s this weird compound in the ruins of an old furniture factory, full of junk, where men burn rubbish and other debris and stare warily at passersby who intrude into their domain.

Ironically, in many ways, the current windswept grasslands of vacant lots, many owned by Paul McKee, look much the same as it would have back in 1874, when this was the edge of the city, and a small but rapidly growing parish was founded, giving yet another German speaking Roman Catholic parish a place to worship. There were almost two dozen German national churches at one point in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, with the parishes distributed evenly between north and south. The original small church appears in Pictorial St. Louis, published by Compton and Dry in 1876, with the Grand Prairie still stretching out to the west beyond.

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