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Former Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, Jennings

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Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, built as the wave of migration to the suburbs picked up in the 1950’s, is now a victim to that same migration that has continued further west. It is now closed, and converted into a senior center. Update: This was the second church that replaced an earlier structure, which probably was too small to handle increasing parish membership.

Unfortunately, as can be seen in these older photos of the church’s interior, it is a unique building, and many of its original features are now gone.

As can be seen below, the owners have still not definitively fixed the ongoing roof problems, present since the time this was still a Catholic parish. Shingles have impaled themselves on the chain link fence below.

Likewise, this stone could use a good powerwash.

But from what I’ve seen from pictures, the stained glass must be truly wonderful to see from the inside.

Sadly, the parish house seen in the Built St. Louis photo has been demolished, and the school is closed, boarded up with now weathered plywood.

Upon closer inspection, the copper gutter was ripped back from its mooring along the roof. Was it just the weather, or has someone begun to scavenge for copper on this neglected building? The results are immediate, as the water is now running down the side of the building.

Across the street, a house sits abandoned. Did the owners once walk across the street to mass? Why is this house in this shape now?

44 Comments

  1. That was once quite a vibrant parish (the ex was in it).Like quite a few parishes, it operated a parish high school from (I think) the mid-'50s until the late '60s/early '70s.The LOCAL parishes that operated their own HS's, apart from the Archdicesan system: Corpus Christi, St. Peters in Kirkwood (Coyle), St. John the Baptist and St. Francis de Sales in South City. St. Anthony of Padua, also South, did as well, but it was unusual in that it was for girls only.St. John's was the last to close, in 2008.Coyle's building is now part of the St. Peter's GS complex (I went to that GS long ago).The Archdiocesan web site shows that the property was sold to the ALexian brothers and now contains offices (dunno how current that is, though).

    • It was a coed high school until about 1965 or so, because a bunch of boys from there enrolled in Jennings Sr. High when that happened

  2. Well, in part anyway, one can blame Chinese demand (now slumping, along with their economy) and GoldmanSachs hoarding (in vast warehouses; plug it into a search engine. Oh, I can hardly wait for the copper commodities markets to crash/snark off) for the ridiculously inflated price of copper these days. Of course, the other component in copper theft is the absolutely illegal practice of metal brokers accepting what are obviously stolen items. I mean really, patina-ed guttering and decorative trim, as well as entire pallets of stolen tubing, along with wiring which must obviously show signs of being wrenched from its source? Yeah, riiiiiight.

  3. This is OT, but – a couple of years I had occasion to drive up Jennings Station Road, a few blocks South of W. Florissant and the church.I noted this immense building that housed the Jennings Police Department and jail (and ONLY it/not City Hall) – WAY bigger than the poor city of Jennings needed. I mentioned this to a friend whose family business was in Jennings from the '40s until the later '60s.He said that the largest portion of the city's revenue comes from housing many federal and state prisoners in that building, prior to trial. Apparently the city identified a revenue source some years ago and followed Ray Kinsella's voice.I presume that is still a source, although the Jennings PD was disbanded and policing was outsourced some years ago to the County PD.

  4. Very sad. Many great memories there. Seems to be a sign of things to come. Attendance at churches are falling off drastically and members are aging quickly. No priest in the pipeline. At my parish the average age of priest is 65 and parishioners about the same.as a result, more closings to come. Sad.

  5. My dad was a teacher here back in the 50s-60s wish I could have seen it before it went down hill…

    • Now comes a walk down memory lane because I remember Mr Yost, your father very well. He was my 4th grade teacher back in the ’60s.

      • Mr. Yost was my teacher too, whose class i really enjoyed. Please wish him well from Donna Novak!

      • Excellent comments and memories from so many! I graduated from CC grade school in ’68 and was followed by 7 other brothers. My favorite teachers were Mr. Scanlon and Sister Martin. I remember bussing tables in the bowling alley during the evening and keeping the gym cleaned, playing much basketball, soccer and baseball and getting sick at every school picnic (motion sickness from the tilt-a-world) even though I would later in life jump out of airplanes! I can remember the many trains passing by the school yard and wondering where they were headed. Will pass this site on to my brothers.

    • Mr. Yost was my teacher in 4th grade as well. My twin sister and I used to be on his “Student of the Month” role frequently and he would take us to the book store to buy new books for our class as a reward. One of my favorite teachers. Great memories such as: “The Nifty Fifty” in the Corpus Christi Picnic Parade. Please pass along my best regards.

    • I also remember your dad . He was a fair , but stickler teacher . Nobody liked his required use of ink cartridge pens . But was a good example of man .

    • Brian, I had your dad as my teacher . He was a good man and a better teacher. Unlike some of the other posts I was not a student of the month. I did enjoy being in his class.

    • Your dad was my fourth grade teacher also: Tom McDermott. His classroom was on the second floor at the end of the at the gym end of the elementary school building. He was a good man, fair with his students and a great teacher.

    • Your dad was an amazing teacher, i had him as well! I remember him helping me write my name & telling me that the letter “C” was a beautiful letter. Plz tell him hi & Merry Christmas from Clea Pardo!

    • Brian, was your dad an elementary teacher at Corpus Christi–Wayne Yost? I was his student; my brother was also. I ran into him in the KC area where I live many years ago. He was a textbook salesman then he told me. Is he still alive? Kathy

  6. This is the grade school from which I graduated in 1979. Later in the late 90’s my mother joined this parish after many North city parishes closed. I remember this was a massive property with two school buildings, a huge playground, ample parking, a gymnasium, a huge grassy field and do I recall a bowling alley? The church was very modern and quite beautiful. I made my First Communion here and my Confirmation. How sad to see it deteriorate.

  7. Corpus Chriti High School was an Archdiocese High school ..opened in 1957 to serve the most northern parishes of the county St Aloysius,St Catherine of Alex. St Jerome,St Pius,St Casimer,Good Counsel Corpus Christi, St Sebastian,.. there were 150 students in the first class..divided into 5 pods of 30 students,based on tests taken in January,1957 and assigned academic goals.
    the first year we were joined by 150 freshman from the St Thomas Aquinas high school under construction on Dunn Rd in Florissant..the sophomore class attended Sacred Heart original school.
    Each year an underclass joined our ranks total of 600 students when we graduated in 1961…since we were first a lot of the tradtions evolved as we grew,,
    we had a wonderful drama program…Jim Grumich who is still active at Trinity in theatre…
    Annie Get your Gun 1960, Oklahoma 1959?

    My mom was the part time music teacher from 1957 through 1960 and then back again 1962.1963..it is quite an experience to be faculty offspring..no goofing off..

    we had a wonderful highschool experience ..most of the lay teachers were young and had high expectations ..Father Wurm was the Administrator and Mother Patrick OSU was the principal..very intelligent and well educated nuns..the facilities were new and well appointed….all in all a verywell balanced education with an emphasis on responsibility and respect…

  8. I would like to know who now own the church and part of the school building that’s left?

    • I believe it is owned and used as a senior day center by Fairview Village Senior Living. The school, unfortunately, and as far as I can tell, is still sitting abandoned.

  9. Interested in knowing who owners the church and school building. Our church is 16 years old and we have been sharing a Building with another church. We are now looking for a forever home for our congregation. We spotted the old school behind overgrown trees and weeds. We love, love the church, but looks like work is going on inside or it has been abandoned.

      • It is such a beautiful building, I felt lead to it. what about the former school building?

        • I have not been up that way in many years, but it was sadly deteriorating and abandoned when we visited. But it looks like a nice building.

  10. I was baptized into the Catholic Church at Corpus Christi. It was 1962 so it was not the church pictured but the previous structure. The new church building had a beautiful baptismal and in the morning the stained glass windows would reflect against the huge white wall behind the alter. The roof had issues from day 1 and it seemed like the numerous hanging lights from the ceiling were always swaying from unfelt breezes. It was magnificent and ultra modern. I think there were 6 masses on Sunday. There was no kindergarten so I attended Woodland. I entered first grade at Corpus Christi and departed in 1977 with my eighth grade graduation. During the entire time Monsignor Bernard Stolte was our parish leader. He was very scary to all of us. It was quite the hub. While I attended there were only really 2 major changes. The closing of the high school and the demolition of the convent when I was about 11/12. I remember the last day for the high school and the girls crying because they would not be returning. I remember a feeling of loneliness and emptiness when the nuns were moved elsewhere. In first grade I was in the “new” building. The school cafeteria was in the basement of this building. If you weaved through the cafeteria to go outside, after you didn’t eat your school lunch, you could see into the bowling alley through the metal gate. It had a full bar and always smelled a little like beer and wax from the alleys. They had open bowling and held leagues here. You entered through a side door alongside the gym from Switzer. There was a small lighted sign that merely said “Bowling”. The alley itself was beneath the gym. Not all 2nd graders were housed in the “old” building but I spent 2nd and 3rd grades there. This was a small building between the church and the high school. It was probably the original school house. We only used the first floor for actual classes. Some of the ceilings had collapsed on upper floors. Although I think that Sister Edith had a special workroom there. She taught reading to upper grades but was also incredibly creative. She would make all kinds of “prizes” for our in-school fair. She crocheted and sewed. Sadly I did not have Mrs. White for 3rd grade. Everyone loved Mrs. White. Everything about this building was old. There had been no updating. You stepped back into time. We could not use the original main entrance but exited from the back near my 3rd grade classroom. 4th and 5th grades found me in the “new” building again. To get to the gym you could enter from the street entrance on Switzer or go through the boiler room on the first floor which is what we used. In 5th grade entered the Daughters of Charity as teachers. For 6th, 7th, and 8th grades I made it to the old high school building. This building had a library! Around this time began a Montessori in the old high school cafeteria. In 7th grade my homeroom teacher was Mr. Scanlon. He was the teacher nobody wanted but everyone lucky to have. A dedicated man that was denied the priesthood due to being diabetic (that’s what the sisters told us) but gave his life to his faith anyway. In his class we said the Angelus prayer everyday at noon. He drove a beautiful 60’s black mustang with a white interior. Probably the only luxury he let himself have. He was an extreme disciplinarian who taught love of our faith and respect of ourselves. He was not above giving someone a talking to if they were not in full school uniform while on school premises. He was in charge of all the special things like the Patrol Boys, Alter Boys, etc. while I was there. He kept tabs on me for a few years after I graduated. I would wave to him as I walked to Jennings High School. I think he was sorely disappointed that I did not attend Rosary High School. I still hear him call “Miss Hoff” in my head. The campus itself had the Church, the rectory, the old building, the old hall across from the back of the rectory (Father McCarthy kept his beagles in a pen near the old hall – he was a hunter and drove a Volvo wagon), a small brick building for the quilters next to the old hall. the convent, the high school, the new building, the gym, a big field with concrete bleachers (there was some baseball played and some soccer), and a special education building on the lower parking area/playground behind the gym (which also hosted AA in evenings) – all situated right next to the railroad tracks. Our gym was THE gym for the other teams in our district like St. Christopher, St. Lucy, etc. Volleyball and basketball were played here. The big basketball tournament was held here every year. My particular class was known for our voice. As a group we were unique and if someone wanted vocal chorus for a funeral we were called in to serve. It was not the newest place, we did not have new books, gym and art class were sporadic but I left there with a better than average education and sense of discipline that has served me well in every difficult situation in my adult life. I have been accused of not caring enough because in crisis situations I remain calm. My parish gave me a strong foundation to become the adult that I am.

    • Betty , you mentioned Father McCarthy , he was at St Francis Xavier was he not ? I attended CC 3rd and 4th in ’73-’75 range I think but St Francis was our church

  11. I went to CC from kindergarten through 8th grade and graduated in 1958. Originally there was a small building that was a kindergarten (to the left of the convent) and later used as a home for one of the caretakers. The convent was very large. I spent my grade school years in the “old” school but the new school had already been built. I remember seeing the new school and gym/bowling alley being build. The school picnics were very large. We lived a mile away but usually walked to the picnic as there was no close parking. I was part of the second class at the high school. We were supposed to be the first class but the construction finished earlier than expected. I graduated from CC high school in 1962. It’s sad to see the decline.. I was never in the “new” church but I remember the old church being nice. From my early years, the only remaining building is the old high school which, I think was later used as the grade school but I may not be correct on this. I know that the high school later became an all girls school as two of my nieces attended then. I loved the chocolate malts at Kam’s Kottage.

    • I’m so glad I found this site. My sister and I went to school here in the mid 50s to 1960. I remember the old church. It had huge crucifix over the altar (at leat huge to my 7 year old eyes). Does anyone have a photograph of the old church interior? We use to walk to school from Mora Lane every day. We moved from St Louis to Chicago in 1960. I never adjusted and always wanted to go back to St Louis.

  12. Wonderful rerflections! All the Corleys went to Corpus Christi Elementary; since the high school became an all-girls school after I graduated in 1966(due to the gym being used as a church and everyone knew girls didn’t need pe; boys did, ha! not today you wouldn’t get away with that!) my brother Kevin went to CCHS as a freshman and then to Rosary. My other three brothers went to McBride, SLUH, and Jennings (a public school!). Corpus had a great campus and was a great place to grow up. The old church was beautiful; I never saw the need for a new church; to me it was a want of the new pastor. Father Blankemeier was a monsignor but never used the title. My mother always said he was a humble man; he “lit his own candles.” I can still see him with his cassock on going down the steps to light some of the candles. There was a rectory, hall with chapel underneath. On Sunday afternoons, Father Blankemeier would show movies for the children ( I guess to give parents a break.) If we were too loud, he would shut down the movie and tell us he was going to “hang us by our thumbs from the rafters.” That image remains with me to this day…we shut up in a big hurry. In my early days of teaching, I would tell my students that; today you would probably be fired; no one would see the humor. We had a Kindergarten building which had a second floor; I had my grade two up there. The gym was connected to the cafeteria. An earlier comment described how it was connected. I had my third grade in a classroom near the cafeteria. So the only grade I had upstairs in the main part of the “new”school was first grade. There was a bookstore which had a WONDERFUL smell. Even though I probably did not need supplies, I can remember going there for maybe a pencil or something small. I loved the smell. After lunch we could buy penny candy. I never had a dime for the large soft pretzels. But there were small fat ones (SALT) that cost I think a nickel. Sometimes the nuns would make us do exercises at recess and we had to count along: one, two, three, four, two, two, three, four, three, two, three, four, four, two, three, four, CLASS HALT! (that meant for the younger generation: STOP!). If the nun said stop, you STOPPED. The Angelus bell rang at noon; do not remember the prayer that we said or who it was to, but I loved it. We were separated from the boys in the seventh and eighth grades (my class anyway) We had separate rooms, drinking fountain, doors, play area spaces. Mother Isador taughth the boys and would pull the shades down when the girls class (Mother Loyola) passed. We would say Mother Isador Is A Door…please don’t tell anyone I said that! I graduated in 1966. We went to chaperoned CYC parties (really not parties EVENTS). Yes Mr. Grumich was LOVED but I was terrified of his Speech class and told my mother his impromptu speech assignments were meant to mortify me. NO,the isn’t true she would say. He had a child who passed away very young and everyone was so so sad for him and his wife.

    • Adrienne, you were my group leader in after-lunch exercises on the playground!!! I so remember you and the counting you mentioned…and CLASS HALT!! I graduated from 6th grade in 1966 and my family had already moved. Did you graduate from high school in ’66, because I know you were older than me. I also became a teacher–in Blue Springs, a KC suburb. Where did you teach?

      • Oops! I mean I graduated from 8th grade at cc in 1966. I reread your post. You were 4 years ahead of me.

  13. Lots of great memories there; the church, parish, picnics, bowling alley, etc. thanks for sharing!

  14. I father owned the bowling alley on tbe late 80’s before buying nothland bowl.

  15. Came to this site to see if convent was still there and occupied. Looking for Mother Mary Martin DePoures I think was her name when I was in her 6th grade class. She may still be living and would love to visit her. She was the nicest teacher to me in my life. Occasionally think of her wandering if she is living. We had had an 8th grade reunion last summer which I enjoyed but disappointed a lot of people I remembered didn’t show up. Find, fond memories of Corpus Christi.

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