St. Elizabeth Academy, located atÂ 3401 Arsenal in the Tower Grove East neighborhood, is planning to raze some or all of their original structures. Which historic buildings is unclear, an email request to administrators for a response have gone unanswered.
From theirÂ 2010 Annual Report (emphasis added):
In addition to strengthening our academic program this year, we gathered a group of volunteers to join us in strategic planning for the future of SEAâ€Ÿs facilities. The result of that study is a 10-year plan that includes renovation of the 1957 building and eventually replacing some of the buildings that no longer serve SEAâ€Ÿs mission with a new facility. In order to implement this plan, we are beginning a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds.
While the funds for upgrading SEAâ€Ÿs facilities are crucial for SEAâ€Ÿs mission, even more important is creating an endowment to provide tuition assistance for the young women God asks us to empower. Therefore, the first phase of the capital campaign will raise funds to establish an endowment in addition to raising funds for the renovation of SEAâ€Ÿs 1957 building. The second phase of the capital campaign will raise funds for a new facility.
The original structure with the two wing additions is what is I assume they want to replace. The only other structure on the site is the 1927 gymnasium, apparently in good condition.
The original building with the two wings is a central part of theÂ Crittenden Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983:
ST. ELIZABETH ACADEMY COMPLEX (City Block 1458)
Establishing an impressive visual focus for the District is the building constructed in 1894 for St. Elizabeth Academy with its projecting entrance tower facing west on Crittenden.1 Designed for the Precious Blood Sisters by Joseph Stauder & Son and builtÂ at a cost of $18,900 by contractor George Bothe, the three-story red brick building is 64 feet by 53 feet. Typical of much Catholic institutional architecture of the last decades of the nineteenth century in St. Louis, the building is a High Victorian amalgam. The central entrance tower with steeply pitched pyramidal roof is enriched by panels of ornamental pressed brick and by stone sill courses, key stones and skew backs at the second and third stories. Tower windows are paired below broad,slightly pointed arches. The heavily carved,double entrance doors with paneled wood reveals are set beneath a stone-trimmed arch and framed by stone-capped piers. Decorated copper-clad crosses crown the entrance tower and north and south gables of
the slate mansard roof. A strongly defined pointed arched corbel table is at the cornice onallelevations;slightlypointedarchesheadthewindows.
The architectural firm of Joseph Stauder & Son was one of several specializing in Catholic institutional design at the turn of the century in St. Louis and was responsible for numerous churches, parsonages, convents and schools in Missouri and southernÂ Illinois. Their work included the complex of St.Agatha’s parish, one of the schools where the Precious Blood Sisters taught, and the order’s Mother House in O’Fallon,
Missouri. The firm’s founder,a second generation German,began work as a carpenter in St. Louis in the 1870s and was joined by his son Joseph, Jr. in the early 1890s.’ Later generations of Stauders designed the 1957 addition to the school.
A $40,000 north wing 51 feet by 97 feet was built in 1914 by contractor F. Kratzer from plans drawn by Brother Leonard Darcheid, who was trained as an archi tect before becoming a Franciscan. The design of the three-story building sustains, with variations, the idiom established for the 1894 structure. The central bay of the west elevation is marked by pilasters rising to a gable. Pointed arched corbel tables appear at the cornice and between the first and second stories of this Day. Window openings are segmentally arched and trimmed with stone key stones. Stone lintels head the second story windows of the five central bays on the east elevation. At the third story on this elevation and at the three eastern bays of the northÂ Stone trim. Â Similar arched openings appear on both elevations of the three- story passageway linking the 1894 and 1914 structures; the three bays of the first and second stories are doubled to six bays at the third.
The $51,000 south wing incorporating a chapel on the east was planned by the firm of Ludwig & Dreisoerner and constructed in 1922 by contractor John Grewe. The design of the west elevation matches and balances the north wing. The chapel portion of the building employs crossed gabled roofs and triads of lancet windows flanked by stone-trimmed buttress forms on the second story of the north and south elevations. Window openings at the first story of these elevations are unembellished rectangles set below a stone course. Five bays of similar windows are at the second story of the east elevation. A passageway identical to the earlier one links this building to the 1894 structure. A new entrance and three-story stairwell were added at the east elevation in 1957. (Wooden infill panels have been placed at the heads of all of the arched openings of these three structures and their linking passageways except for those of the lancet windows of the chapel.)
Architect Henry Dreisoerner designed the 1927 gymnasium at the eastern edge of the campus. The interior features one of the first lamella roofs licensed and constructed in the Midwest. (See Section 8.) A building cost of $34,000 was recorded on the permit for construction of the gymnasium which extends 141 feet along Louisiana Avenue and is 60 feet deep. S. W. Schuler was the contractor. On the exterior eccle siastical echoes are evident in the pointed arched roof covering the modern lamella roofing system, the copper-clad gablets above the buttresses of the fourteen-bay side elevations and the corbelled arcading on the north elevation. The basement is random- sized limestone set in dark mortar. Side elevations are articulated with arched bays at the north and south ends. On the south elevations diapering of contrasting dark brick is employed in a large blind arch; diapered brickwork also appears on the north elevation below five rectangular openings and corbelled arcading. Although there is no record: of replacement, the present asphalt, shingles probably replace the originalÂ asphalt roof. In the interior, the interlocking transverse arches of the wooden lamella system creates a diamond-shaped grid. It is now almost completed concealed by a dropped ceiling. The new school building of 1957 joins the gymnasium on the south; a one-story addition was built the same year at the north elevation.
A low crenellated wall of random-sized, quarry-faced limestone laid in dark mortar was constructed to extend along three sides of the school camous in 1938.
Very significant structures! I can just hear them at the Preservation Board in 5 years requesting demolition, ‘We’ve been planning this for years, we’ve spent a lot of money on architectural design for our new buildings.’
The state mental hospital west on Arsenal comes to mind. Â Originally the State of Missouri wanted to raze the original domed structure hidden behind a 1950s building. Â Thankfully the state realized it was better to raze the 1950s building and renovate the more stately original structure while building new structures elsewhere on their grounds.
The campus is located within the current boundaries of the 6th ward,Â Â alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett is alumni of St. Elizabeth Academy.
I’m not suggesting St. Elizabeth raze their 1957 building, just that they find a way to incorporate their historic west-facing structures into their plans for the future.
- Steve Patterson