Schiller’s Grove and the Former St. Elizabeth’s Academy

I had long known that the former St. Elizabeth’s High School and convent, now the International Institute, had once had a larger chapel that had been partially demolished when its new Modernist wing had been built in the 1960s in Tower Grove East.

William Swekosky, Christopher J. Schiller Residence, St. Elizabeth’s High School, c. 1950, Missouri History Museum, N03690

Christopher Schiller, owner of the Swan Tavern on the Levee, had bought the southeast quadrant of Block 43 for $6,000 in 1851 (for comparison, Adam Lemp had bought the same amount of land in Block 52 for $970 from the City in 1847, so you can get an idea how land values were rising) in the St. Louis Commons. He built an Italianate villa, which were common out that way, and opened a vineyard and cellar. After he died, his wife rented out the property as a beer garden known as Schiller’s Grove. Eventually the property was bought for St. Elizabeth’s Academy, and the house received a very German Romanesque Revival front facing Arsenal Street.

William Swekosky, Christopher J. Schiller Residence, 3401 Arsenal Avenue, c. 1950, Missouri History Museum, N04128

It was demolished in the mid-Twentieth Century for the now-present expansion, but you can see in the two previous photos how the mansion was still standing, hidden behind the new façade on Arsenal. I didn’t realize this, but the sign clearly states that the school once boarded students. You can still see the pilasters of the old Italianate villa even in the house’s ruined state, and how it attached onto the side of the historic convent’s chapel.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bob S says:

    I love the variety you present. Keep up the great work, Chris. For many of us, every day features a visit to your blog resulting in a good bit of education.

    1. cnaffziger says:

      Thanks, Bob! There are so many thousands more stories to tell.

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