My Love of Architecture Photography and the History of Trinity Lutheran Church, St.Louis

Mark / Architecture, History / / 0 Comments / Like this

One day while I was sitting at my desk at the Intelligencer Newspaper in Edwardsville, Illinois in late 2013, I was reviewing some of my photographs I captured at the Cathedral Basilica in University City, St.Louis. I started doing a search of 1) churches in St.Louis over 100 years old, 2) Judeo-Christian in denomination, and 3) still operating as a church. I was amazed! This list of churches fitting those parameters were around 2 dozen. It was this list that sparked the project I called “Churches Under God.” I spent the following couple of years setting up appointments and interviews with a few of these historic churches in St.Louis. Over the next few weeks I will share photos from this project.

Cathedral Basilica, St.Louis
"Charity of Light" at the Cathedral Basilica, St.Louis
"Under God" at the Cathedral Basilica, St.Louis

Let me back up a little bit. My family moved to the St.Louis area from the Wisconsin/Minnesota area back in the mid 1980’s. My father attended Concordia Seminary to become a Lutheran minister after leaving the banking industry. Because of this I grew up countlessly roaming the beautiful architecture of the Concordia Seminary campus. This is really where I gained my love of architecture and of the city of St.Louis. I moved around alot in my early adult years but St.Louis always kept calling me back, that is why I returned for good in 2004. St.Louis is so utterly blessed to have such wonderful and historic architecture. One can endlessly explore the city and find examples of this everywhere.

Concordia Seminary, St.Louis
Chapel of St. Timothy & St. Titus, Concordia Seminary, St.Louis. Photograph given "Award of Excellence" by Associated Church Press
"The Passage, " Concordia Seminary, St.Louis
"Hope Springs" Concordia Seminary, St.Louis
Luther Tower, Concordia Seminary, St.Louis

This week I will share a few photos from my trip to Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard. Thanks to the help of Rev. King Schoenfeld, Dennis Rathert, and Dave Perry I was able to meticulously photograph the interior of Trinity Lutheran Church. I also did some in-depth research on the church’s rich and fascinating history. This is an excerpt from the article I published about the church, which can be found in its entirety on

The year of 1896 was a very tough year for many churches in South St. Louis. On May 27, 1896 a very large tornado ripped through the city destroying a number of churches, completely leveling some of them. Trinity Lutheran Church was also hit very hard in this storm. Some of the damage Trinity experienced was; 35 feet of its steeple was torn off, the altar which housed a painting, instead of the present polychromed carving of the Lord’s Supper was completely swept away, and an angel statue was completely destroyed. What amazingly survived was the baptismal font and the pulpit. The storm had also divided the balcony and destroyed much of the stenciling in the walls and ceiling. However, there was great effort taken during the restoration to retain the original color scheme of the interior of the church. Also, 15 feet was removed from the length of the church in order to attach a parsonage during the storm restoration. It was at this time during the restoration that the church was fitted with electricity. However, the church needed both gas and electric because the electric company would shut the power down at 9pm every night. This would of course effect evening services, in which case gas was used to light the church.

Trinity Lutheran Church
Trinity Lutheran Church

I continue to find the history of St.Louis and its churches intriguing, especially when I learned how much these local churches were the social and moral compass for the communities, even by those who were not members. In many American communities the largest weight of community outreach and assistance was bore by these local churches.

I invite you to schedule a time to tour Trinity Lutheran Church and see it for yourself. My photographs can only do it so much justice. There is no substitute for seeing it for yourself.

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