St. Augustine German Catholic Church

Copyright St. Louis Patina -1247

Update: Vacant and severely vandalized and looted. The church is still owned by the same congregation, but they have no money to maintain or secure the structure.

I was wandering around North St. Louis this last Saturday when I spotted the spire of the most interesting church I had seen in a long time. It turns out it was St. Augustine, a long closed parish church in a nebulous area west of Parnell, the northern extension of Jefferson Ave. I was awestruck at the sheer size of the abandoned church, and the surrounding desolation gave the entire neighborhood and church the look of a ruined German village.

It is hard to believe that such a beautiful church could be sitting empty, but I acknowledge that maintaining such a huge structure is not cheap. The church is an amazing and pure example of northern German Gothic ecclesiastical architecture, as can be seen in this example from Konigsberg. In fact the two churches are almost mirror images of each other.

I felt like I was starting to dwell too long in the neighborhood, so I took off after getting what I felt were mediocre pictures of the church. More images of St. Augustine can be seen at the Built St. Louis website. Rather curiously, the adjacent parish house seemed to be (legally) occupied when I passed by. The block directly across the street is completely empty; perhaps it could serve one day as a grand public square in a revitalized neighborhood.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. That is indeed the one on Hebert, and I’m pretty sure that falls in Jeff Vander Lou. I assure you those blocks were doing better a while back when I first walked down em, then they are now after the one-two punch of Blairmont & brick rustlers. Sigh.

  2. Max Kaiser, Jr. says:

    DEAR MR. NAFZIGER: Enjoyed your photos of my grandparents ancestral church,
    OLD ST. AUGUSTINE at Hebert and Lismore Streets in the Fairgrounds neighborhood
    of North St. Louis. This impressive German Gothic church was designed by noted
    German-American architect LOUIS WESSBECHER who also designed the old St. Henry
    the Emperor Church (at California and Rutger Streets, South City, now demolished)
    and the Motherhouse Church for the Franciscan Nuns in Ferdinand, IND. He is buried
    at SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery in South St. Louis City. A prolific architect, this Old
    St. Augustine’s is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and now jointly owned by three black Protestant churches who use it as a warehouse for relief supplies for the
    urban poor. My late father Max, Sr. was baptized there by Fr. Joseph Dubbert in 1924.
    Thought you’d like to know this building is still on the National Register.

  3. Gary Mandrell says:

    I too have some pictures of St. Augustine’s. My wife went to the school, which is the empty block west of the church. I am surprised it is still standing, too. I went to Sacred Heart at 25th and University. My church is long gone, but the school still stands at 2501 St. Louis Ave. My wife and I lived 4 blocks apart, but attended different parish schools. We met when we both attended Central high School on Natural Bridge and now here I am telling you about it 50 years later. Thanks

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Gary, I would love to see any old pictures you might have!

  4. Jeanne Burns Smith says:

    It makes my heart sad to see the Church now. I played the organ there when I was in the 8th grade. Now I treasure those memories. It’s so hard to look at the neighborhood now. But I do like your pictures. Thank you.

  5. Denise (Dubbert) Gaughan says:

    My great uncle Father August Dubbert was pastor at St. Augustine’s Church all 33 years of his holy priesthood. He was ordained on July 11, 1908.

    1. Denise (Dubbert) Gaughan says:

      Father August Joseph Dubbert spent all 45 of his priestly years at St. Augustine’s Church…not 33 years as I stated before. He was born on October 15, 1879, in Westphalia, Missouri, ordained on July 11, 1908 and died on September 17, 1953, In St. Louis, Mo.

      1. Chris Naffziger says:

        Denise, thanks for sharing!

  6. Kathy says:

    My parents, grandparents siblings and I attended church at St Augustine. My mother & her sister had a double wedding there. My mother’s parents were married there. I have photos from my parents wedding and from when we visited the neighborhood about 2005 with my father.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Kathy, I always love to see people’s old photos if you’re comfortable with sharing!

  7. Jerome says:

    I went to St Augustine school & grad.1948. Served mass for Fr. Dubbert.
    Empty lot =old school & play yard.
    Enjoyed the photos. Thanks Chris .

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Thanks, Jerome. There are more photographs of the church here under this tag:

  8. G.M. Brown says:

    I have seen many videos of the current condition of this beautiful building and I am shocked that no one has ever tried to fix it up. If I won the lottery, I would hire the right people from Europe! 🙂

  9. G.M. Brown says:

    Beautiful and Unique! How come no one would try to preserve it? At least fix it up and charge admission like a museum and be a great tourist attraction! I know its no longer in a great area of the city, but why not inspire people with its beauty! : ) or at least re- purpose it, turn it into Condominiums like Saint Boniface in Chicago? I know a lot of the roof has fallen, but they can structurally assess it and build another one. Also, they should lock the back doors to keep all vandals out from further damaging it.

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