Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rarely Seen Views, St. Liborius

Perhaps as enjoyable as viewing the interior of the church was the chance to step into the private, intimate spaces behind the scenes of the church.
For example, the angles created by the exterior of the apse as it butted up against the bridge to the rectory, or the steps that descend down into the basement.
The building's stout walls will last for centuries, but the near future of the church will determine in what condition it will remain in the coming decades.
Below, the stained glass windows still line the hall of the bridge between the church and rectory, one of the most unique elements of this complex.
The rectory itself is a large building, with fascinating courses of glazed brick interspersed with the typical red brick.
The fuse box, no longer hooked up to electricity, is most likely part of the earliest wiring of the church.
A yellowed sign explains the operation of the system, though it is of no use now.
The parish hall, in the cellar, has been cut up into smaller rooms, but some of the original paint remains.
The grotto out back, facing away from the street, has miraculously avoided serious vandalism. This is the second historic church I have visited in North St. Louis in the last couple of months, and every time, I get a sad sense that I am witnessing the passing of an era. In fact, I get much of the same feeling viewing these churches as when I'm visiting ancient Roman ruins in Italy, even though those are obviously much older. What caused the Roman Catholic church to give up on this church? Was it a lack of will, or just a sad, realistic realization that there was no reason to keep the church open? Was it no different than when the Romans abandoned the Coliseum? Was there just simply no money or manpower left to keep it open any longer? Perhaps the most sad realization for me is that if even the beautiful St. Liborius can be abandoned and forgotten, then anywhere can, including the places I cherish.


  1. Chris,

    Take walk up the street to see the Shrine of St. Joseph. You will be impressed. Built in 1844 and enlarged in 1860, it is restored to it's original glory. It is at 11th and Biddle. Mass is Sunday at 11 am and there is always a tour of the building by very well trained, articulate docents.

  2. Tom Maher - KirkwoodMay 9, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    The Archdiocese gave up on the church simply because, as the neighborhood changed (before the "land clearance"), there were simply not enough parishioners left to support the parish - and the staffing necessary. This has obviously happened all over STL and not just in the North City; many Southside parishes have closed as well, and not just in "transitional" areas. It occurred all over North County as well.

    I am surprised that apparently all of the copper guttering has survived - those thieves are quite resourceful and determined. When they steal from active buildings (like the former Corpus Christi church in Jennings), it seems surprising that St. Livorius has survived.


A Blog detailing the beauty of St. Louis architecture and the buildup of residue-or character-that accumulates over the course of time.