St. Mary’s Assumption Roman Catholic Church

Update: This is in fact the old St. John’s Episcopal Church, and it originally possessed a very tall spire over twice as tall as the current tower on the right. The Society of St. Pius is still canonically in a state of flux with the Roman Catholic hierarchy as of 2018.

Officially, in Church doctrine this is a chapel, but in form it is a church. Like many of the houses of worship in the older part of the city, this building needed a new use when the density of the surrounding area declined, and is now operated by the Society of St. Pius. You can read about it here.

It’s a great example of English Gothic Revival, which is rare this deep in the city. Normally I see expression of the French or German, or even before that, the Neoclassical of George I. Barnett.

And it is a survivor, just barely getting demolished for the Truman Parkway and the nearby housing projects.

The back of the church features a truncated choir that ends at the transepts, with a diminutive pentagonal apse. I like it, and it is in great condition.

Most interesting are these engaged buttresses which do not terminate in the ground, but rather return to the wall before the cut stone foundation courses.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. David says:

    Chris, I may be mistaken, but I believe this was built as St. John Episcopal Church, then the congregation moved to a new church on Arsenal in Tower Grove. I dont know what the original building was used for until the early 1980s when Metropolitan Community Church took over as a LBGT Church, until its current use

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      David, you’re exactly right, it was a St. John’s Episcopal in 1909, according to fire insurance maps in 1909. Interesting that the current Catholic institution did not reuse a former Catholic church but rather acquired this building. Perhaps it was the perfect size and condition for their uses.

  2. Eric says:

    The Society of St. Pius X is a schismatic group and is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.

    There’s no way that the Archdiocese would ever sell one of its former buildings to this group.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      It looks like relations have thawed a bit, with the bishops’ excommunications having been lifted, but yes, the Society of Pius X is not a fully accepted Roman Catholic religious organization:
      Interesting what I discover photographing random historic church buildings in St. Louis.

  3. Albert says:


    In 1997, church bought and restored current building, which was built in 1871 as an Episcopal church, later used by Ruthenian Greek Catholics and then by Protestant and non-denominational groups.

    It would appear that the sale in 1997 was not made between the somewhat reactionary but official Archdiocese and the schismatic (and reactionary) SSPX.

    I had the pleasure of visiting with a priest at the rectory and church in the 1970s when the Ruthenian Catholic congregation. He had taught at my high school and provided an interesting glimpse into the structures, as well as a non-Roman-rite group additional to that at St. Raymond.

  4. Mea says:

    This church is not fully accepted because it says the Traditional Latin Mass and the Conciliar church is trying to stop this but more and more churches are starting to have Latin Masses thanks to SSPX

  5. Paul Hinzpeter says:

    Thank you for the information on this historic Lafayette Church as well as the historical facts that SSPX is not schismatic,i.e., Pope Benedicts moto proprio and Pope Francis granting priests the Churchs blessing for communion and weddings. We celebrate the Latin Mass because it is the tradition that has kept the church together for two thousand years and away from the modern problems the church faces today. Come visit and see that traditional faith is what we celebrate not just saying the Mass in Latin.

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