Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church

Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church sits in the dense neighborhood of Soulard, and sometimes falls off my radar because of the busy traffic that flies by on its rear on South 7th Street. But I love how it rises above the city and cane be seen all over the South Riverfront, which is mostly low-slung buildings, vacant lots and parking lots.

The church was restored back in the 1950s or 60s, I don’t remember exactly when, and I always chuckle when I look at the front facade, as they painted the quoins on the corner black, as they mistakenly, or for acquired aesthetic believed they were originally like that. In reality, the stone held on to the coal soot more than the rest of the stone exterior walls.

The bell tower, likewise, was also built later, which is very common in St. Louis, as it is clearly built of a different and probably higher quality stone. Railroad connections opened up new quarries, particularly after the Civil War.

The back of the church faces South 7th Boulevard, not Broadway, as the widening of major trafficways in the early Twentieth Century did not always stick to the old streets exactly. Broadway is one block to the east here, and is broken up by sections that are closed to traffic.

The church, like the vast majority in St. Louis in the Gothic Revival style, does not have flying buttresses, but are engaged with the walls of the nave and transepts.

The rectory around back is built of red brick, and offers an interesting contrast to the church building.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Steve Strebler says:

    I appreciate your comment about the quality of stone used in the steeple at Sts. Peter and Paul. The church was built in 1874 and the steeple was damaged by the Great Cyclone in 1896. My great grand uncle donated the stone to rebuild the steeple.
    BTW…the story about the black soot on the “quoins” is a local legend. I’ve seen the same paint patterns on German churches on the east coast and in Germany. There is a photo of the elevated garden behind Ursuline Academy, on the corner of 12th and Russell, from the turn of the 20th century, that appears in a recently published book about St. Louis. Sts. Peter and Paul is in the background, barely visible from the low hanging smoke pall, and the contrast between the black corners and the rest of the white church is so distinct it had to be painted. If you look at photos of City Hall, the Old Courthouse, the Old Post Office, or the Old Cathedral at the turn century, the entire buildings were dark grey.

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