Crossing over North Newstead Avenue, mature trees block the view of the stately institutional building that stands on the northwest corner. If you traveled back in time over a century, the view would have been dramatically different.
The entire eastern half of the block was taken up by the estate of Mayor David R. Francis, whose contributions to St. Louis are hard to fully explain. He also obviously was very wealthy, and/or got into Central West End real estate early. His mansion was designed by G.C. Mariner; note the dome and the twin porches along with the central portico of this Beaux-Arts palace.
The building on the grounds is now the Queen of Peace Center, which was built in 1936 in a late Gothic Revival style by the Sisters of Mercy for single women to live before getting married. It became the present women’s substance abuse center in 1985 due to the work of Monsignor Robert Slattery.
I photographed its smokestack way back in July of 2013.
The Catholic Church did a sort of switch-a-roo with the two huge parcels of land on the property, buying the eastern one and selling the western one. On the western end was the Academy of the Sacred Heart, which was demolished for some forgettable apartment buildings. The Academy received a wing to the south at some point after this photo was taken. A giant block of stone from the building sits in the parking lot facing North Taylor Avenue.
With the booming prices (even more so than before) in the Central West End, I wouldn’t be surprised if these low-density apartments get knocked down in the next ten to twenty years.
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When was the Francis mansion torn down?
According to a newspaper announcing the groundbreaking of the $200,000 Queen of Peace Center in 1936, it was torn down in August of 1935 in preparation for the construction of the new building.