Name: Soulard Historic District Churches
No examination of Soulard´s social and architectural heritage can be complete without some mention of the area´s many churches. Almost every Soulard view contains a spire in the background. These churches were, and are, major social arbiters as well as architectural masterpieces.
The first Roman Catholic parish organized within the Soulard area was that of St. Vincent de Paul in 1841. The church building on the southeast corner of Decatur (Ninth) Street and Park Avenue was begun in 1843 and consecrated two years later. The large brick edifice of Romanesque architecture has a tall tower on its roof at the front. The church structure was designed by Meriwether Lewis Clark, the son of William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The parish has declined in recent years with the intrusion of the Third Street Highway.
By far, the largest Catholic Church in the area is the beautiful German Gothic edifice of Saints Peter and Paul at Eighth and Allen. This German Parish was founded in 1849 by Reverend Simon Sigrist as a mission from St. Vincent de Paul. The original church was a one-story frame building on the site of the present church. Its school was begun in a residence on Geyer Avenue. A second church, costing $18,000, was built of brick on the same site in 1854. This building was demolished to make way for the present structure, which was consecrated on December 12, 1875. It is built of Grafton limestone after the design of Franz Georg Hempler. The church´s spire is more than 200 feet in height. Handsome accoutrements of the church include fine stained glass windows and three altars.
One of Soulard´s ethnic churches is the Most Holy Trinity Slovak Catholic Church at 1804 South Ninth Street. Slovak immigrants to the area originally affiliated with the Bohemians of St. John Nepomuk Parish, but in 1898 they organized their own parish and purchased a former Baptist church at 12th Street and Park Avenue. This church was demolished for the widening of l2th Street in 1924 and the church then purchased its present home from the St. Paul Evangelical Congregation. That building was built in 1897, replacing a previous building destroyed by the 1896 tornado.
The Bohemian Catholic Church of St. John Nepomuk is another important Soulard church. It is the oldest church of its nationality in the entire United States, founded in 1854 by the Reverend Henry Lipovsky. Its first home was a frame structure at Eleventh Street and Lafayette Avenue, dedicated in 1855. The present church replaced it in 1872 on a site donated to the congregation by Dr. Renard, a French priest. This handsome Gothic church was designed by Aldolphys Druiding.
Trinity Lutheran Church at Eighth and Soulard Streets is the oldest church of its kind in St. Louis. It was organized in 1839 by a group of Germans seeking the religious freedom unobtainable in their homeland. Originally, they worshipped in the Christ Episcopal Church at Broadway and Chestnut Streets, but eventually they were able to move into their own church, completed in 1875. This structure was destroyed by the 1896 tornado, but was soon rebuilt. Trinity was the first church to join what is now the Missouri Synod, which was formed largely through the efforts of its pastor Reverend Carl F.W. Walther in 1847.
Other Lutheran churches in the area included the First German Lutheran Church which was located at Eleventh and Rutger Streets in 1875, the St. Lucas Church which was organized in 1905, and the Jesus Church organized in 1894 at the Soulard Market Hall. The Lutheran Religion, being common among Germans, was probably the strongest group among Soulard residents (excepting Catholicism). A variety of other faiths, however, had strong followings, and were represented by a number of churches. These churches also effected Soulard´s development historically and architecturally. Among these churches were the South German Evangelical Church (later known as St. Marcus), founded in 1845
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