The Famous and Local History of Christ Church Cathedral in St.Louis

Mark / Architecture, History / / 0 Comments

One of the most noticeable and recognizable old churches of the downtown St. Louis landscape is Christ Church Cathedral, which located across the street, due east, of the downtown St.Louis Public Library. The parish was founded in 1819 with no church, just a meeting hall. The size of the parish grew several times and was forced to relocate due to its size. In 1859 it settled in its current location, and completed in 1867. In 1888-1889 the church finally became a cathedral, a title the references the official seat of the bishop. It is the oldest Episcopalian Church west of the Mississippi River.

Christ Church Cathedral has a very interesting history with unique references to popular figures through history. For example, there is a plaque commemorating the famous poet T.S. Eliot who was born in St.Louis, upon request of his wife. He was also the grandson of a Unitarian minister who was one of the two founders of Washington University.

Plaque commemorating T.S. Eliot.

The reredos, the “screen” behind the alter was gifted by the local industrialist Benjamin Brown Graham, whose wife, Christine Blair Graham, gifted the memorial chapel at Washington University. The statues of the screen were carved in Exeter, England to match the style of churches and castles in England.

The reredos at Christ Church Cathedral.

The bells in the bell tower are replicates of the bells from the World’s Fair from 1904.

The piano was once the property of Elton John.

The Founder of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Henry Shaw was a member of the church, and left money for a Spring celebration for Flower services which take place 2 or 3 Sundays after Easter.

Christ Church Cathedral is as much a historic museum as it is a church. It has a wonderful history that ties together St.Louis and the rest of the world. It also has a number of community outreach programs that continue to serve the people of St.Louis. It was my appreciation for this church’s architecture that really helped me to recognize the historic gems that the city of St.Louis has to offer.

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