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Former St. Stanislaus Seminary

The old Jesuit St. Stanislaus Semimary is perhaps one of the oldest and most historic buildings in St. Louis County. When it was first built, it was far out in the country, and as the aerial photograph below demonstrates, was still very much so well into the early Twentieth Century. Its address on Howderschell Road, the narrow dirt strip snaking by above the complex of buildings, was more a formality at the time than an easy way to access the seminary.

Aerial View, St. Stanislaus Seminary, 700 Howderschell Road, Florissant, Missouri, Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS MO,95-FLORI,3–2

The oldest building, built in 1849, is known as the Seminary Building, and is one of two of the original three buildings in the National Register nomination. It is, whether you are strict, described as either “Federalist,” a term used more on the East Coast, or Neoclassical or Greek Revival. It uses the Tuscan Order, a Roman invention, on the front portico’s columns, so it certainly not pure Greek Revival.

It has changed little in appearance over the last century. It was built by the Jesuits, and is the oldest Novitiate west of the Mississippi, though it closed decades ago and was purchased by another denomination, who has in turn moved on to St. Charles County. Slave labor was used in its construction; as would be expected at a remote site, stone was quarried locally in the 1840s. With the demolition of Rock Hill Presbyterian in 2012, there are increasingly very few major buildings left in St. Louis County built by slave labor.

St. Stanislaus Seminary, 700 Howdershell Road, Florissant, Missouri, Theodore LaVack, Photographer, September 1936. Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS MO,95-FLORI,3–1

East Front, St. Stanislaus Seminary, 700 Howderschell Road, Florissant, Missouri, Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS MO,95-FLORI,3–3

The next two buildings, flanking the Rock Building, were attached by bridges; the one to the right, the Tertian Building, was torn down at some point. The Juniorate Building, to our left, is still standing. It, along with the Rock Building, are the two remaining contributing members to the National Register nomination.

Detail of East Front Entrance, St. Stanislaus Seminary, 700 Howderschell Road, Florissant, Missouri, Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS MO,95-FLORI,3–4

The cupola has changed little, other than the loss of the lightning rod.

Detail of Cupola, St. Stanislaus Seminary, 700 Howderschell Road, Florissant, Missouri, Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS MO,95-FLORI,3–5

Above is the Juniorate, which became the “Old” one when a large wing was built to the south in 1942. It is interesting to see how the style of architecture changes over the decades.

The Juniorate is classic Jesuit architecture, inspired by the Baroque of Italy. I wouldn’t be surprised if originally there was a statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier in the two niches of the Juniorate and now-demolished Tertian Building.

The chapel was constructed in 1923, and again looks like a church that came out of the Catholic Reformation in Rome, right at home for the Jesuits.

There are a series of bridges that link all of the buildings together, including the chapel.

The last major building built, the Novitiate from 1950, juts out to the north.

Ironically, the most prominent “public: view of the old seminary towards the now-arterial Howderschell Road is the back of the chapel.

The back looks like the apse of the Jesuit home church of Il Gesù in Rome.

2 Comments

  1. “The next two buildings, flanking the Rock Building, were attached by bridges; the one to the right, the Tertian Building, was torn down at some point.”

    Looks like it it met its demise between 1996-2002, identified thanks to aerial imagery.

    • Nice detective work! A Sad loss, indeed, particularly because its National Register status could have made available loans and other special programs to help in its renovation.

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