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St. Raphael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church

St. Raphael the Archangel, located at the complex intersection of several streets in the southwest side of St. Louis, is difficult to photograph due to all of the mature trees that surround the church.

Like the temple of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens, and the former St. John’s Methodist at Holy Corners in the Central West End, the church as a double portico, addressing two streets at the intersection.

Raphael the Archangel is one of seven, but he is only mentioned in the Apocryphal book of Tobit. His name means “God has healed.” Any proper name that ends with “El” very likely comes from ancient Hebrew.

Groundbreaking at St. Raphael the Archangel Roman Catholic occurred on January 21, 1951. The church is a bit of an outlier, in that it is built in the Colonial Revival style in the period when the Archdiocese was building some of its greatest Modernist masterpieces.

The neighborhood around the church is not particularly heavy in Colonial Revival architecture, so I am curious as to why this style is chosen. Its sanctuary sits 600 people and originally cost $375,000 to build. It seems to have been open for worship in 1952.

Like many Colonial Revival buildings, the detailing is in wood painted white, and does not use cut stone, though it is not unheard of.

The steeple is unique for a Colonial Revival church in that such architectural features usually are centered above the front pediment. But like many other churches in St. Louis, it is located off center, most likely due to the presence of two front porticos facing different directions. Again, this is like St. John’s Methodist at Holy Corners.

The side elevation to the east is typical of a Colonial Revival church, though the presence of such large and pronounced transepts is not.

The parish school is large and continues in the same stylistic mode as the church.

7 Comments

  1. Most of your pictures are of the new church, When I went to kindergarten there in the early sixty’s the church was the big building attached to the school in your last 4 photo’s.

      • Oh interesting. But don’t you think this might have been another situation where they used the gym for the worship space until the final church could be finished?

        • Yes, when the parish opened in 1952 the church location was considered temporary. I vaguely remember being in the old church but don’t remember any details or that the church was a temporary location. Learned that many years later. 1952 till 1967, it took awhile

          • I couldn’t find a newspaper article for the completion of the church in 1967, but I did find one from 1965 about a Lady’s Society holding a fundraiser for the new sanctuary. It does seem like it was a long journey from start to finish.

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