Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Normandy, Missouri - the "Little Rome of the West", part 2

THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SAINT LOUIS is the mother diocese of what was the western half of the United States, and its intense missionary activity and Catholic leadership earned it the nickname "Rome of the West". But nowhere in the Archdiocese was there such a concentration of Catholic institutions as found in and around the north Saint Louis County town of Normandy, giving it the title of the "Little Rome of the West". This was the result of the generosity of Ann Lucas Hunt and her descendants, early settlers of this region.

Much of the area has subsequently been purchased by the University of Missouri - Saint Louis.

Click here for part 1 of this photo essay.

Site of Normandy Hospital, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

An empty field, once the site of a hospital, and soon to be the University's baseball field.

The photos in this and my previous photo essay were taken on two occasions: April 3rd 2009, a brilliant but cool day, and April 18th, a warm but rainy and dreary day.

The bleakness of the photo above, I think, is fitting, and is a symbol for the great loss of the Church in this area; for many of the photos in this and in my previous photo essay are of closed Catholic institutions. I am reminded of the ‘Northernness’ much beloved by 20th century writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien; which included the cold, bleak, severe landscapes of northern Europe and the Medieval literature of that region, which had a strong sense of loss and of longing, but also of courage.

Some say that as Christians, we are Resurrection people and ought not morn for what is lost; but this is mistaken. Even Christ's resurrected and glorified body bore the Wounds of His Passion and Death; for if He did not suffer during His Passion, then He did not offer for us a true sacrifice to His Father, we are still in our sins, and we have no hope for salvation. We are not pure spirits nor are we merely animals: we can mourn for the good things of our world now lost, even as we wait in joy for the New Jerusalem.

Building up an institution takes years, enormous effort, and great generosity: in other words, it requires virtue. Destruction can occur in a mere moment, which intensifies our sense of loss.

Former Passionist monastery, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - cornerstone 1967

1967

Cornerstone of the former Passionist Fathers' Retreat Center, now Bellerive Hall of the University of Missouri. 1967 was an excellent year for the Church: vocations were high, the laity was generous, and the reforms of the Second Vatican Council promised that the Reformation was over and the Church would grow tremendously.

Then came 1968 and the collapse.

Former Passionist monastery, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - exterior of chapel

Exterior of the former Passionist chapel.

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

Exterior of the chapel of a former Franciscan house, now the University's Music School. I looked into this former chapel; it is now a music practice room, and students, making up a string quartet, were making lovely music.

Former "Child Center of Our Lady", in Normandy, Missouri, USA

This is the former Child Center of Our Lady, now owned by the secular “Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis”, popularly known as the Variety Club.

Sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

Convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, located by Saint Ann's Church.

Former Cardinal Newman College, now Fine Arts building at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

This is the former Cardinal Newman College, closed in 1985, which now houses the Fine Arts school of the University of Missouri. The artwork on the right is by Mark di Suvero, considered to be the greatest of the abstract expressionist sculptors, but who fell away from the True and Holy Catholic Faith of his childhood.

Observatory, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

The University's Richard D. Schwartz Observatory is now on the grounds of that former school.

Mother of Good Counsel Home, in Northwoods, Missouri, USA

Mother of Good Counsel Home, a nursing home, in the adjacent town of Northwoods. It is operated by the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Martyr Saint George of Alton, Illinois.

Saint Vincent Home for Children, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

The Saint Vincent Home for Children, a residential treatment center for abused and neglected children, now receives half its funding from the State of Missouri.

Saint Vincent Home for Children, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - "The German St. Vincent Orphan Home"

THE GERMAN ST. VINCENT ORPHAN HOME

Founded in 1850 after the great Saint Louis fire and cholera epidemic, which left many children orphans. The orphanage was operated from 1851 by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, and from 1888 by the Sisters of Christian Charity, and now apparently is governed by a lay board. This present building dates from 1917.

Former Saint Vincent's Hospital, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

The former Saint Vincent's Hospital treated mental disorders. Founded in 1858 in downtown Saint Louis, it was operated by the Daughters of Charity. This building dates from 1891, and it closed in the 1980s. It is now used as an apartment building and nursing home.

Mullanphy-Hardy-Wayside House, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

The Mullanphy-Hardy-Wayside house in Normandy was built by John Mullanphy in 1893.

Gate to the Village of Pasadena Hills, Missouri, USA

Many charming neighborhoods remain in the area. Here is the gate to the Village of Pasadena Hills.

Glass pyramid over the Mercantile Library, at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, in Normandy, Missouri, USA

This glass pyramid covers the remarkable Mercantile Library, originally founded in 1846, which houses a collection of early primary documents of the westward expansion of the United States and the commercial history of Saint Louis, including the river trade and railroads. The Mercantile is located alongside the University's main library.

As I read more history of this area, I find many Catholic institutions of this area that are now gone, such as the landmark Mount Providence School and Motherhouse of the Sisters of Divine Providence, destroyed in 2001. Also, there are other Catholic sites in the area, former and present, which I either neglected to visit, or am unaware of their locations.

Many thanks to Tina F. who alerted me to this area and who graciously drove me around for hours for some of this photography.


5 comments:

  1. That Tina person is so nice. Awesome job. :)

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  2. Very interesting, and terrific photos (as always). I've never really visited that part of town. I need to take a "staycation" and see Normandy.

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  3. Anonymous,

    If you want to see where I took each photo, click on the image and when you are in Flickr you can click on 'map'. You can then zoom out to gain your bearings.

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  4. Do you know where I can find information on Cardinal Newman College?

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  5. Bellerive Hall was built as a house of study by the Springfield Sisters of St. Joseph just as the music building was built by the Wheaton Franciscans for their order to attend Marillac College.

    I've been told that Cardinal Newman College was Cardinal Newman College Prep High School and before that it was Logan Chiropractic College.

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