This Is The End

Bethlehem Lutheran Pull Down

Koyaanisqatsi (from the Hopi language), noun. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life out of balance. 4. life disintegrating. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.

The metal beasts struggled and roared, seething and growling, smoke pouring from their snouts. The steel wire strained and snapped, not once, but three times. Finally, as the tethers seemed ready to burst again, they instead went slack, and a great rumbling billowed across the street.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church Demolition Photos 096-MOTION

A giant, roiling cloud of pink dust boiled up from the earth, hiding the horrible sight which surely lay behind its opaque darkness. A bizarre, dusty outline of the tower hung in the air for a few moments.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church Demolition Photos 124

The sun rose over Bethlehem Lutheran one last time on August 2nd. I was there to witness the final demolition of the tower; I needed to see it, to witness it myself. I also realized I am not working hard enough to save the priceless treasures that St. Louis seems hellbent to throw away.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church Demolition Photos 028

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Yojimbo says:

    Amazing shots. You should send that first still to the Guardian for consideration for their “Images of the Day” feature. Great work. And very few are doing what you are to turn this trend around.

  2. Ann says:

    That makes me so incredibly sad. 🙁

  3. Chris B says:

    Wow, that’s something. Hopefully your spreading awareness that these treasures are being destroyed is the first step toward saving them.

  4. CfR says:

    That first photo, nevermind the unfortunate context, is really cool.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Indeed, can the tragic be simultaneously beautiful?

  5. Kyle Lansing says:

    I spent a lot of time at this building and it was beautiful but damaged. As much as I hate it there was nothing that could be done but wreck it. It was a danger to that intersection and the school and church next door. It all comes down to money, we didn’t have the money to save all we could, and the congregation didn’t have the money to fix the church. it’s a shame but it happens and the things we can do is fix what we have, and try to preserve the wonderful history we have at our fingertips.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:


      Good to hear from you! I did want to say I was impressed at how carefully and professionally you brought the tower down. It is a shame, but as you said, it was beyond the means of the congregation to fix the church in its state of deterioration. I do wish that the congregation would have been more active in trying to save their building from this fate twenty years ago, so the problems that manifested in the church this year didn’t have to happen.

  6. Deanna says:

    beautiful and sad

    Hope you are well

  7. Alan Creek says:

    Twenty years ago they did not have the funds to save it as well. Just heating it was breaking them. They moved into their school building for worship services out of necessity. A lot of folks, want the owners to save these old buildings, but no one wants to contribute to their cause. I am a member of another old Lutheran

    Church (St. Trinity in Carondelet) we love our old building built in 1872, but cannot at this time, afford to have it tuck pointed. I guarantee that we would accept donations to the cause!

    Thanks for posting these photos! It is very sad to lose our heritage.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Alan, as a good friend of mine once observed, not once did Bethlehem Lutheran place a “for sale” sign out for that church. No one can help if help is not accepted by those who need it.

  8. Alan Creek says:

    If you want to check out the sanctuary of St. Trinity it is at 7404 Vermont. Get a hold of me and I’ll give a tour.

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