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Name:  Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Architectural Firm/Architect:   Louis Wessbecher and Charles
Religious Group:  Lutheran
Dimensions:   103 feet wide
Alterations:   Towers modified142 feet long following the tornado of 1927
Designation: City Landmark
The parish of Bethlehem Lutheran Church has played a vital role in North St. Louis since its founding in 1849. Active as a mission church, it has been the mother church of six churches on the north side: Ebenezer, St. Paul´s, Bethany, Grace, St. Matthew´s and Markus. Most of these grew out of branch schools, founded throughout the parish district as a result of the church´s dedication to community involvement. These schools were primarily concerned with the education of the children of German immigrants; it was not until 1915 that English was used exclusively. It was through Bethlehem´s activities that the newcomers were assimilated into the established community. The parish began, in 1849, when twelve men from New Breman organized it. Land was offered by Benjamin Farrar with the stipulation that a church had to be built within six months. The building, at Nineteenth and Salisbury Streets, was dedicated Easter Sunday, 1850. A school was included in the structure. The congregation grew rapidly. In 1855, New Bremen was annexed to the City of St. Louis. Since New Bremen was already populated by a large number of Germans, many immigrants, coming into the City, settled there, and adopted Bethlehem Lutheran as their parish. Due to this growth, a second and larger church was constructed on the same site in 1858. The school added another class, in 1860, to accommodate the influx of new pupils. Within three years, the parish had grown to such an extent and encompassed such a large district, a branch school was opened at Lowell. It was from this branch that the second mission church, St. Paul´s grew. It was the first to be founded from a branch school. The church and school broke off from the mother church in 1872. Despite the founding of three mission churches (Ebenezer, 1869; St. Paul´s, 1872; and Bethany, 1874), the old church of 1858 had been outgrown by the mid-1800´s. In 1887 land was purchased on the corner of Salisbury and Florissant Streets. The new building was dedicated October 29, 1893. It was of cruciform. plan, built of brick, and of a Gothic style. In depth, it measured 142 feet and it was 103 feet in width. Three months later, the church was destroyed by fire. It was immediately rebuilt, following the original plan and style, and dedicated in April. 1895. The steeples were destroyed in the tornado of 1927. Rather than rebuilding them, it was decided that the towers should be repaired in a squared-off manner. The church has undergone no other alterations, but it was completely redecorated and necessary repairs were made as part of the parish´s Centennial celebration of 1949.

Wessbecker, Louis

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Bethlehem Lutheran Church



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