Monday, June 20, 2011

Photos of Holy Angels (former Saint Bernard) Church, in Wood River, Illinois

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Holy Angels Church of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The church is located about 20 road miles northeast of downtown Saint Louis in Wood River, Madison County, Illinois. Originally founded as Saint Bernard Church, it merged in the year 2005 with Saint Kevin Church in East Alton.

Holy Angels Parish (former Saint Bernard Church), in Wood River, Illinois, USA - exterior

As far as I can tell, Saint Bernard was founded in 1919; this church building appears to date from the late 1950s or early 1960s. Unfortunately I was unable to find any more information on the history of this church.

Wood River gets its name from la rivière du Bois — French for ‘Wood River’ or ‘Wood Creek’. This swampy watercourse is known locally as Wood River Creek. Here was the site of Camp Dubois, the starting point for the famed Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase. Here also was the site of the Wood River massacre during the war of 1812.

In 1907 Standard Oil commenced construction on a refinery here; workers originally commuted by street car from Saint Louis, but towns quickly sprung up around the refinery, including the neighborhood called Little Italy, which was the home for Italian and Croatian workers and their families, while Benbow City was known for its lawlessness, saloons, gambling, and disreputable houses.

Standard Oil intended that Wood River be a model city, and it purchased numerous Sears Catalog homes. Although the refinery closed in 1981, the Wood River area remains highly industrialized.

For more historical information see the website for the Wood River Heritage Council.

Holy Angels Parish (former Saint Bernard Church), in Wood River, Illinois, USA - nave

I was traveling in the area, and noticed this church on my GPS. I arrived at the church soon after the beginning of Holy Mass. I took this photo through the glass door in the narthex.

Holy Angels Parish (former Saint Bernard Church), in Wood River, Illinois, USA - Marian garden

Marian garden outside of the church.

Holy Angels Parish (former Saint Bernard Church), in Wood River, Illinois, USA - sign

In the narthex is this plaque showing the history of the parish merger.

345 East Acton Avenue
Wood River, Illinois 62095


  1. Beautiful. my home town :)

  2. You said "Unfortunately I was unable to find any more information on the history of this church. " Well I have that history for you. My grandfather laid the cornerstone of the Church. I grew up here with this Church. My Grandfather was transferred with Standard Oil and was one of the first families. My grandmother helped write the history of Wood River. I have information from her that will give you the history of St Bernards. I don't know how much space I have here to write. I quote from her work, published in Diamond Jubilee Edition of the History Of Wood River, Illinois. I gave a copy to the Wood River Museum and I have a copy. "The influx of workers at Standard Oil Company (Ind) many of whom were Catholics focused the attention on the need for the first Catholic Church for our community. This need was recognized by the Most Reverend James Ryan, D.D. Bishop of Alton. The mission of St Bernard in Wood River began in 1907 in a building at Reis Lumber Yard at West Ferguson and Haller Avenue. It was serviced for 14 years as a Mission of St Pataricks parish in Alton. The priests who served this Mission Church were the pastor of St Patricks, Father Francis B Kehoe and is 3 assistants, the Reverend Daniel Daly, Rev Dennis O'Brien and Rev Bernard Manning.
    On Oct 1, 1919, Father E. J. Douglas was sent to Mitchell to sere both the churches at Mitchell and Wood River, there being approximately 100 families then in the Wood River parish. St Bernard at this time was moved from the Reis Building to the Singler building at the northeast corner of Third & Lorena. This building still stands. This served as the parish church until the basement of the present school building was built and used as the church. This building was started in 1920. This basement church was used until the completion of he school building in the fall of 1924. This building served as a combined school, church and auditorium, with a constriction cost of $104,816.00 much of the labor was done by parishioners and Father Douglas.On May 3, 1925 St Bernard Church was solemnly dedicated by the Most Rev James A Griffen, D. D. Bishop of Springfield, Illnois.
    Father Edward J Douglas took up residence in Wood River in the summer of 1922. St Bernard's Parish at the time of Father Douglas' appointment included an area from Hamel to the eastern portion of Alton, down the Mississippi River to a line across the northern section of Granite City and then back east excluding Edwardsville. From this original territory has been formed the parishes of St Matthews in Alton, Our Lady of Peace in Bethalto, and St Kevin's in Rosewood Heights.
    The parish continued to grow and prosper. On Dec 8, 1953, plans were made to launch a building campaign and one year later ground breaking ceremonies were held for a new church and rectory to cost approx $500K. Sunday Masses were offered for the first time in the new church on May 20, 1956, and it was dedicated on Sunday Oct 28, 1956 by the Most Reverend William A. O'Connor, Bishop of Springfield." Marcia Manning Kortmeyer

    1. What happened to Our Lady Of Peace in Bethalto and why does the plaque by the altar say St. Bernard if it merged into Holy Angels. I find all this confusing

  3. Also, what happened to St Kevin's in Rosewood Heights.

  4. Our Lady Queen of Peace remains in Bethalto, IL. It is still St. Bernard Church. When St.Kevin parish merged with St.Bernard parish it became Holy Angels parish.