Tuesday, April 25, 2006

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

I have known that St. Aloysius has been getting closer and closer to demolition for awhile, and it has remained at the top of my list of places to visit. I had visited before, but had found the church and surrounding buildings to be fairly secure. Recently, I finally made the trip again by myself, and this time was able to gain entry and photograph the interior of the church, rectory, and old gymnasium. It seems such a waste that the Archdiocese of St. Louis is allowing this historic parish to be demolished to make way for luxury housing. A few locals told me that the church has settled considerable recently, and some of its structural flaws would be far to expensive to repair. Regardless, I hate to see any historic building meet its end in such a way.

Someone who is close to my family actually grew up attending "St. Al's," and her requests to see photos of the interior only made me want to visit more. As I began walking around the church interior, I knew that it may be something she would not like to see. You would never know that it has been closed for just over a year by the amount of debris lying around. One of the few features of the church to remain are the painted archways, which are still beautiful to behold. All the stained-glass windows have been removed, and I have been told will be sold for a hefty sum by the Archdiocese.







I also visited the rectory that is attached to the church building via an inclosed walkway. It seemed to be almost in worse shape than the church itself, with grafitti having found its way into many of the rooms. It also appears that the entire complex has become an unofficial airsoft location. Only the frame of the main staircase in the rectory remains, and vandals have destroyed some of the windows and the first floor toilet (which was unfortunate because I REALLY had to go!).

Finally, I made my way into the old school gymnasium. I don't usually explore by myself, but on this trip I felt completely comfortable aside from entering the pitch blackness of the gym basement. At one point, my flashlight came across a man standing in a corner. I nearly evacuated my bladder before I realized that it was a statue. Even then, the gesture he was making with his hands still made me a little uncomfortable.

The gym floor was pretty unremarkable and empty. There was a fairly large stash of old trophies on the stage. It seems sad that kids probably worked very hard to achieve these tokens of athletic superiority, and now they are as forgotten as the church itself.

At this point, the demolition of St. Aloysius may be inevitable, as the developer's sign site prominently outside the front door of the church. However, there are those who are still battling to save this historic piece of St. Louis history. Visit http://www.savestaloysius.org/ if you would like to help or learn more.

9 Comments:

Blogger spry_grasshopperr said...

HEY! This place is groovy, too bad I didn't get to see the inside too!

5:24 AM  
Blogger Michael Allen said...

Actually, demolition work has already started with salvage and efforts to save the church have concluded in defeat.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Michael Allen said...

Demolition began over the weekend, with the rectory and convent buildings already missing their roofs and the old church building behind the new one beaten up badly. The new church building has not yet been touched.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

I just read about you in the RFT today, and as a fellow St. Louisan who has often wondered what all of these forgotten buildings and underground places looked like on the inside, but has always been too timid/law-abiding to check it out for herself, I have to say your site totally rocks. Thank you for taking me on a virtual tour of so many wonderful places.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Merc Man said...

I attended St. Al's grade school in the late 1950s to mid-1960s. It was a great neighborhood church with a strong sense of community. The old "Gymnaisium" you describe was always called the "Church Hall' in the old days, and actually had a small bowling alley in the basement. It was also the site of school plays, Christmas pageants, and weekly fish fries.

7:18 PM  
Blogger sunneblues said...

Again Casey,
Thanks! I lived down the street from River Roads and went there often as I was growing up. I watched it go from a bustling mall to an abandoned complex. Again....being able to have a final look on the inside is priceless. Thanks. Keep on keeping on! Stay safe while you do it! Your pictures are works of art.

Jai

7:23 AM  
Blogger busybeepy said...

My middle son, who had forgotten he was Baptized here, sent this to me from University Kentucky. " Hey Mom weren't you married here?"
The pics look like the aftermath of a major war. The walls of all the buildings echo faces and times pressed in my memory. Watching it all go down was like watching an old person die. Their time done. Being so ready to leave but still holding on through all the people who knew it.

5:10 PM  
Blogger busybeepy said...

My middle son, who had forgotten he was Baptized here, sent this to me from University Kentucky. " Hey Mom weren't you married here?"
The pics look like the aftermath of a major war. The walls of all the buildings echo faces and times pressed in my memory. Watching it all go down was like watching an old person die. Their time done. Being so ready to leave but still holding on through all the people who knew it.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Ken Newbury said...

Understanding how old this thread is, I'm sure it is unlikely; however, I am curious if anyone knows where, if at all, any of the remains from this church are - be it bricks, glass or otherwise? Any info would be great. God bless...

1:45 PM  

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