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Former St. Mary’s Orphan Home

Now missing its central cupola and no longer functioning in its original purpose, St. Mary’s Orphan Home or Asylum stands on Emerson Avenue in the Walnut Park neighborhood. Originally it was probably out in the exurbs, built in 1909, but the City caught up with it and the campus is now surrounded by bungalows.

It is a stately building, eschewing the more elaborate Beaux-Arts common at the time while still a member of that style.

The central portal is flanked by paired Corinthian pilasters, and the original stained glass can be seen through the central entry arch.

The central window appears to be St. Mary, even though she is not backlit.

The central mass is flanked by twin identical wings in red brick, with quoining on the corners and limestone window lintels for the minimal decoration.

Around the corner on Thekla Avenue, what is now a charter school is the former Laboure Parish High School, then North Side Catholic High School and then Cardinal Ritter College Prep (I believe–correct me if I’m wrong) before it moved to Grand Center.

7 Comments

  1. Laboure was all girls in the 60s. There was a steep hill on the property, popular for sledding on snow days.
    Thanks for checking on my old neighborhood.

    • I thought it was all girls, but then I found an old record that said it was a “parish school” at one point. Do you know what they might have meant by this?

  2. I think parish school just means that religion is taught. Girls did come from distant neighborhoods to go to Laboure, but I don’t know what the attraction was.
    The neighborhood Catholic grade school was around Prange and Wren Sts. The nuns were in full penguin.

    • That makes sense. There was never any St. Catherine Labouré Church for it to be a parish school of nearby.

  3. I think “parish school” refers to a high school that was supported by surrounding parishes for their high school students. I went to St. Thomas Aquinas in Florissant (1960s)and it was the high school for parishes in Florissant, Hazelwood, Berkley and Ferguson. Although there was student tuition, the parishes shouldered a large part of the financial burden.

    • Ah yes, thanks for the explanation! There was DeAndreis High School down to the south in the Penrose neighborhood which was all boys. I bet these two high schools served the northernmost portions of the City.

  4. I graduated from Mark Twain School in 1962. I went on to Beaumont High but my friend Mike Cobb attended Laboure. It was coeducational at that time and he played on the football team. In his junior year Laboure converted to a all girls school and DeAndreis to an all boys school so Mike transferred to DeAndreis for his final two years of high school.

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