Friday, November 20, 2009

Photos of the Former Saint Joseph Lithuanian Church

HERE ARE PHOTOS of the former Saint Joseph Lithuanian Catholic Church, in the Lafayette Square nieghborhood of Saint Louis. It was opened in 1915 and closed in 1970.

Former Saint Joseph Lithuanian Catholic Church, in the Lafayette Square neighborhood of Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - 2

This former church is located at the corner of Park Avenue and MacKay Place. Park Avenue is named after Lafayette Park, which is opposite to the church, while MacKay was named after an early fur trapper whose maps were used by the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803-1806. Mackay Place was at one time called Anderson, possibly after one of the founders of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

The Baltic country of Lithuania suffered greatly due to its location between Germany and Russia, having been often taken over by its neighbors. Lithuanian immigration to the United States was very strong from the late 19th century to the post-World War II era. Until the establishment of this church, local Lithuanians attended nearby Saint John Nepomuk.  By 1970 the Lithuanians had become prosperous and moved out of the neighborhood, leading to the closure of this church.

The church was named after Saint Joseph, foster-father of Our Lord Jesus, and patron of the Universal Church.

Former Saint Joseph Lithuanian Catholic Church, in the Lafayette Square neighborhood of Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - 1

Now, and at the time of its founding, Lafayette Square was mainly wealthy, Liberal, and Protestant, but during the time of this church's existence, the area was an impoverished slum. By 1970, the impetus behind “urban renewal” — which had already leveled square miles of the city — was ending, and the Lafayette Square area was spared, along with its excellent Victorian architecture.

This church is for sale: look for its listing here.  It includes an attached rectory, and has stained glass windows.

I would think this church would make a fine little oratory or chapel of ease, or perhaps as home for one of the Eastern Rites or for a new traditional religious community: it has enough attached land to construct a small convent or monastery.

Click here for my photos of the Lafayette Square neighborhood.


  1. Nice post. DIdn't know any of that. The church is also near the Lafayette Square bath and tennis located in the alley across Mackay. When we first started going to the pool in 2000, the church was in use by an African American congregation. How would you feel about the church being converted into a single family house? I think it would be neat.

  2. I agree, it would make an interesting house, but then again, you know where my heart is. Its highest and best use would be for a Catholic church! Not as a parish church, since that isn't needed, but rather it would make a good chapel or oratory for a small community with a special charism or rite. These happen to be springing up quite a lot lately.

  3. Dates are wrong. The church was founded as the Church of the Unity, an Unitarian congregation in 1838? Not sure about the building They merged in 1938 with another Unitarian Church in the CWE. Then St. Joseph Lithuanian Catholic Church, conducted by the Franciscan Friars. After that, an African-American congregation.