Update: I went back and surveyed the damage to St. Augustine’s in this post from December 20, 2022.
The unthinkable finally happened. A fire broke out in the former St. Augustine’s which had finally been taken under the wing of Project Augustine, who were working to save the mighty church. Despite the (misogynistic) naysayers, Brittany Gloyd and her husband Chris were not giving up. This is a horrible setback. Thankfully, the quick and professional work of the St. Louis Fire Department stopped the spread of the flames, and while the damage is bad, gutting the apse and back quarter of the church, by no means do I think this spells the end of this beautiful structure.
I rushed up to see one of my favorite churches on Thursday night, worrying this might be the last time I saw it standing, The windows of the apse that were formerly covered in plywood are now yawning black holes (the stained glass you can see in the second photo of this post are destroyed). Amazingly, the heavy timbers and steel structure of the roof held. The firefighters were still dousing the church with water, and a light rain was falling, aiding in the suppression of what had been a raging inferno at one point.
St. Augustine is one of the “Big Three” as I call them, a trio of churches due to their size dominate the inner North Side. St. Augustine is the first; St. Liborius, which is enjoying a renaissance right now, is the second; and Bethlehem Lutheran, which met an ignominious end, is the third. Only time will tell which direction St. Augustine goes: the former or latter.