Fire, Soulard Church

Despite having driven by this church on the very edge of Soulard well over a thousand times, I came to the realization that I had never photographed it before the fire that struck it one night recently. Apparently painting supplies spontaneously combusted, which is completely possible if they are not allowed to dry properly; the space was functioning as artists’ studios from what I understand. This church has had quite a history, and in a neighborhood such as Soulard that received waves of immigrants, it saw numerous congregations call it home.

First of all, the fire was bad. It must have burned hot and fast before the Fire Department could get there. It has severely damaged the interior of the church, much worse than the recent fire at Jamison Memorial. The roof is completely compromised, and the windows, which had been covered with some weird sort of metal lattice and stucco, were burned through.

The church began as St. Paul’s Friedens Evangelisch Church, opening in 1886, thought I feel like the belltower is very old-fashioned for that date. It does not appear in Compton and Dry, so it was definitely constructed after 1876. You can see it pasted in below in the fire insurance map (it’s the big red rectangle in the upper center). Note that Gravois has not yet been cut through to connect with Twelfth Street. St. Paul’s last until 1913. Then St. Lucas Slovak Lutheran Evangelical moved in for several decades. A cornerstone for St. Lucas says it was organized in 1905, so they must have worshipped elsewhere before buying the church after St. Paul’s folded.

Another cornerstone states that a Gravois Avenue Church of God seems to have moved in on December 13, 1942, but a book on St. Louis churches states they organized in 1886, so they likewise must have worshipped somewhere else for awhile. It is interesting to see how of course Gravois Avenue had cut through by that point, thus the name. They seem to have held out until the late Twentieth Century when the church went through a series of owners. Or the author could have been conflating the original construction date of the church by the St. Paul’s congregation.

Oliver & Whipple’s fire insurance map of St. Louis, Mo., 1876. Vol. 1, Page 11.

Below you can see the staircase up to the belltower. Like I said, the interior damage is bad.

Towards the altar wall of the church, there looks like there has been the complete collapse of major structural members.

There is a Second Empire house attached to the back of the church, and I suspect it was the pastor’s home, as its shared wall is incorporated into the rear wall of the sanctuary.

It seems like it is in relative good shape and escaped damage from the fire, but I do not know if it was occupied before recent events, anyway.

Back around on Allen Street, the congregation hall and school was untouched and it is used for weddings and other special events.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m hoping this will be saved!

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