Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Normandy, Missouri - the "Little Rome of the West", part 1

NOWHERE IN the Saint Louis area was there such a concentration of Catholic institutions as was found in and around Normandy, Missouri. This inner-ring suburb of the City of Saint Louis, located about 11 highway miles northwest of downtown, is now largely the domain of the University of Missouri - Saint Louis.

Click here for part 2.

Newman Center, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Bel-Nor, Missouri, USA - exterior view from side

This is the University's Catholic Newman Center, located in a former residence in the village of Bel-Nor, one of the many small communities surrounding Normandy.

The fact that there are 91 municipalities in Saint Louis County is troubling to some, especially among those who value efficiency, standardization, and centralization. Normandy is at the center of the greatest concentration of small municipalities in the County: Bel-Nor, Bel-Ridge, Bellerive, Greendale, Cool Valley, Pasadena Hills, Pasadena Park, Glen Echo Park, Greendale, Beverly Hills, Norwood Court, Northwoods, Country Club Hills, Velda City, Velda Village Hills, Pine Lawn, Uplands Park, Hillsdale, Saint John, Hanley Hills, Vinita Terrace, Vinita Park and others are within a short distance. Many newly-prosperous Irish Catholics moved to this area starting in the 19th century; they knew that government serves best when it is local, and when its leaders are friends and neighbors.

Newman Center, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Bel-Nor, Missouri, USA - chapel

The chapel in the Newman Center, with the tabernacle. You may notice that the walls need repair: perhaps you could donate your time or money for its repair. Much thanks to Fr. Bill Kempf, Director of the Newman Center and Archdiocesan priest, who generously spent time telling me the history of this area.

Wilson Price Hunt house, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

The Wilson Price Hunt house, now a business, built by a member of the founding family of Normandy, and completed in 1904.

Charles Lucas (1792-1817) was a land speculator who purchased properties from distressed landowners following the massive earthquakes in New Madrid of 1811-1812, as well as being the recipient of government land grants. Lucas named his estate ‘Normandy’ after the homeland of his father, Jean Baptiste Charles Lucas, born in Pont-Audemer, Normandy, France. His home was on the property of what is now the Incarnate Word Academy, seen below.

Lucas was killed in a duel against fellow lawyer (and later United States Senator) Thomas Hart Benton, and his land passed to his brother James and sister Ann Lucas. Part of his land eventually became the University of Missouri, but many felt insult upon the naming of the first new building - Benton Hall - after Lucas' killer.

Ann Lucas built her home “The Shelter” in 1820. Located at 7836 Natural Bridge Road, the property eventually became the convent of Our Lady of the Cenacle, and now belongs to the Normandy School District. Ann married Theodore Hunt, who died in 1832, and afterwards married his brother, the explorer W. Price Hunt.

Lucas-Hunt Road runs along the eastern border of Normandy, after Ann and her descendants. The family was a great patron of the Church, with many institutions locating on their property.


Incarnate Word

Former Incarnate Word Convent, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - entrance marker

Former Incarnate Word Convent, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - exterior front

This is the former convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, Texas. This provincial house was founded in 1922, and is now the University Inn and Conference Center.

Former Incarnate Word Convent, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - cornerstone

CONGREGATIO SORORUM CARITATIS A VERBO INCARNATO SAN ANTONIO TEXAS
LAUDETUR VERBUM INCARNATUM 1928

Cornerstone of the building, seen from two angles. On the left is the symbol of the congregation; on the right "praised be the Word Incarnate".

Former Incarnate Word Convent, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - exterior of chapel

The former chapel.

Incarnate Word Academy, in Bel-Nor, Missouri, USA - exterior

Incarnate Word Academy, a girl's high school, was founded in 1932 and remains open.

Incarnate Word Academy, in Bel-Nor, Missouri, USA - statue

Statue at the entrance to the school.


Daughters of Charity

Former Daughters of Charity convent, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - exterior

This is the former Provincial House of the Daughters of Charity. This congregation was founded in Paris in 1633 by Saints Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, and was dedicated to serving the poor. This building, now owned by the University of Missouri, retains the name "Provincial House".

Former Daughters of Charity convent, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - Marian medallion

Monogram of Mary as seen on the Miraculous Medal.

Cross on wall at former Daughters of Charity convent, Seton Center, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

Cross on the wall of Seton Center, named after Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, American Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, who adopted the Rule of the French Daughters of Charity.

Cornerstone at former Daughters of Charity convent, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

Cornerstone of the Seton Center.

Former Daughters of Charity convent, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - small chapel exterior

Former Marillac College Chapel, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

This was undoubtably a chapel. Now a computer lab, this was once a part of Marillac College (1955-1974), a Sisters college dedicated for the education of nuns.

Former Marillac College Chapel, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - former sanctuary

Three steps up. The High Altar was here.

Former Daughters of Charity chapel, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - exterior

Exterior of the Provincial House's chapel. Owned by the University, this is now a popular chapel for student weddings, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is still offered here. Click here for photos of the interior of the chapel.

Empty Grotto at former Daughters of Charity convent, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

An empty grotto.

Daughters of Charity cemetery, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - chapel

Daughters of Charity cemetery.


Churches

Saint Ann's Roman Catholic Church, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - exterior

Saint Ann's Parish is venerable, dating from 1856.

Saint Ann's Roman Catholic Church, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

Cornerstone.

SAINT ANN'S CHURCH DEDICATED BY
THE MOST REVEREND JOSEPH E. RITTER
ARCHBISHOP OF ST. LOUIS APRIL 27, 1952

FREDERICK J. SPRENKE PASTOR
JOSEPH DENIS MURPHY ARCHITECT


Saint Ann's Roman Catholic Church, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - sanctuary

Sanctuary.

Saint Ann's Roman Catholic Church, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - First Station of the Cross, Jesus is condemned

First Station of the Cross — Jesus is condemned.

Saint Ann's Roman Catholic Church, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - stained glass window

Stained glass window.

Saint Ann's Roman Catholic Church, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Shrine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Saint Ann's Roman Catholic Church, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - Saint Ann School

Saint Ann School.

Saint Paul Roman Catholic Church, in Northwoods, Missouri, USA

This is the former Ascension/Saint Paul parish, which closed in 2008. Ascension parish, founded in 1945, merged in 1995 with Saint Paul the Apostle parish (founded 1909) in Pine Lawn.

The demographics of the area has changed over the years, with far fewer Catholics now living here, although you can still see garden statues of Our Lady in this neighborhood.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church, in Ferguson, Missouri, USA - mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mosaic, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, founded in 1954, in the nearby town of Ferguson.

Many thanks to Tina F., who alerted me to this area and generously drove me around to take photos.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for posting these photos. We have some wonderful treasures here: the mother houses of the St. Joseph and Notre Dame sisters and the White House retreat center are my favorites.

    David in South City

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  2. It is crushing to see so many Catholic structures converted to public buildings! The general flight of Catholics from "St Louis" proper and decay of St. Louis City over the past 50 years is depressing!

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  3. Thank you so much for these photographs! I am searching for my family's St Louis-area history; my great-grandfather (John William Carey 1872-1957) listed Normandy as his place of birth on his application for a SS# in 1936, and it's wonderful to have the opportunity to see some places that he might have been.

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  4. Looks like the Baptists will have some nice building to choose from.

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