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Former Most Holy Trinity Slovak Catholic Church

The former Most Holy Trinity Slovak Catholic Church on South Ninth Street in Soulard has an interesting story. It began its life as St. Paul’s German Evangelisch Church, and this is even the second church built by that earlier congregation.

The first building, visible in Compton and Dry’s Pictorial St. Louis from 1876 and labeled as No. 2, was destroyed by the Great Cyclone, and rebuilt in 1897, before being sold in 1924 to the Slovak Catholic congregation that had been formed in 1898. I presume the German Protestants had started moving further west into more “suburban” neighborhoods such as Dutchtown long before then and the congregation no longer needed the building. Ninth Street was still Decatur Street in 1876, having been laid out in Julia Soulard’s Second Addition.

You can still see it as the Evangelisch church in the 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance map. It backed up to the famous Trinity German Lutheran Church, which is one of the oldest congregations west of the Mississippi. You could also see it in Compton and Dry labeled as No. 3. I am wondering if the Catholic Church chose the theological concept of the Most Holy Trinity for the name of this church as a way of countering the Protestant Trinity church on the other side of the alley.

Perhaps in hindsight it is obvious that this was not built as a Catholic church; it is too cramped in its surroundings compared to other churches of that denomination that usually start with a big piece of land for the many outbuildings such as a convent needed for the parish.

It’s a nice church, with simple ornament. Like many Soulard institutions, it closed finally in 1982 when its population had dwindled to a point where it could not be sustained. Originally, Slovaks attended St. John Nepomuk, the Bohemian church to the northwest. Many people from the Austro-Hungarian Empire first lived in Soulard because there were German parishes, and they could speak that language from living under Teutonic domination, waiting until they could get a parish with their mother tongue.

There are engaged buttresses in what is a typical northern German Hallkirche design, with no noticeable transepts.

The two towers are of asymmetrical height, as is common in a Romantic Era interpretation of the Gothic Revival style. The church suffered a fire in 1947 but recovered from it and continued on for several more decades. It is now a banquet center.

The house to the north, I presume, was once the rectory.

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