Tuesday, March 25, 2014

UMSL to Destroy the Former Incarnate Word Convent

CHARLES LUCAS, second-generation French-American, and a settler in the Saint Louis region before Missouri statehood, owned a considerable amount of land around what is now Normandy, Missouri, which he named after his father’s birthplace.

Lucas was killed in a duel by Thomas Hart Benton, then a rival lawyer and future United States Senator, and the Lucas estate passed on to his brother James, and his sister Ann, who married into the Hunt family. The Lucas-Hunts were very generous to the Church, which led to an astonishing variety of Catholic institutions in the area, the remains of some can be seen in these articles:

Normandy, Missouri - the “Little Rome of the West", part 1
Normandy, Missouri - the “Little Rome of the West", part 2

Part of this former Lucas and Hunt land is now the property of the University of Missouri—Saint Louis, which also owns a number of the formerly Catholic buildings featured in the articles linked above.

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

Here is the former convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (Congregatio Sororum Caritatis a Verbo Incarnato). It is now known as Normandie Hall, on the UMSL campus. The school intends to demolish this building this summer, the reason being that it would cost $11 million to renovate — and only $1 million to destroy.

A news report on this can be found here: Former convent faces demolition at UMSL. A Facebook group hoping to preserve the convent can be found here: Save Incarnate Word Convent + Alumni Center.

This is a shame, but UMSL has a history of rather uninspiring architectural choices, including the destruction of its first building, the elegant clubhouse of the former Bellerive Country Club, as well as the tepid Modernist buildings that punctuate spaces between its vast parking lots. Contrast this with the better architecture found at Saint Louis, Webster, and Washington Universities. Banality drives out the beautiful.

UPDATE: the university decided to save the building for now, and is looking into various proposals for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment