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German House, Lafayette Square

One of the more spectacular buildings in St. Louis, the German House was the center of Teutonic culture in St. Louis for generations. Sadly, it is sitting vacant right now. It’s a huge building, and has a theater out the back, as can be seen here. The parking lot right at the corner with South Jefferson is sadly fallow space in an otherwise dense and urban neighborhood.

As can be seen below, a corner tavern and a house once anchored the corner.

Zimmerer Residence. Lafayette, West of German House, Photograph by William Swekosky, c. 1940-1959, Missouri History Museum, N03947

There was even a Second Empire duplex to the east, that has been torn down.

Unidentified Residences, Lafayette and Jefferson, Photograph by William Swekosky, c. 1940-1959, Missouri History Museum, N04389

The Lafayette Square Restoration Society has two excellent articles that relate the history of this building. The building was also the site of a meeting of parishioners seeking to prevent the desegregation of Roman Catholic schools in 1947 (the building is sometimes called St. Louis House). We looked at St. Edward’s Roman Catholic Church, which was also involved in the events of 1947, back in August of 2019.

The front portal looks like something out of a German Hanseatic city, showing the influence of the Renaissance in the 1400s.

The cities represents in the coats of arms left of the front portal are Dresden and Munich.

While on the right are the cities of Berlin and Hamburg. Pretty logical as they were four of the largest and most economically, culturally or politically important cities in Germany when the building was constructed.

The rooflines of the building reflect Sixteenth Century and merchants’ houses and the Mannerist style of architecture, coming over the Alps as the Renaissance waned and the Baroque was about ready to burst forth in the Seventeenth Century in Italy.

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