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  • Bright Future for a Mid-Century Modern Church

    Posted on June 6th, 2010 Toby Weiss 7 comments
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    3900 Meramec St.
    South St. Louis, MO

    Resurrection Church is a 1952 mid-century modern beauty that survived abandonment by the Catholic church to become a thriving Vietnamese church in the Dutchtown neighborhood. Let Rob Powers take you on an extensive tour of this gorgeous building.

    Notice anything shiny and new in this photograph of the side of the church, snapped just the other day?

    And you can see it on the rear of the church, above.
    Crews are just about done capping all parapet walls of the church (and there’s a lot of them) with brand new copper. Some of it is replacing old, green patina copper original to the building, and some of it is going over original concrete parapets, which will protect them from further water erosion.

    There are a couple of reasons why this is a significantly great bit of news. This maintenance project is really, really expensive. They could have saved quite a chunk of change by using any other metal but copper, but they stayed with the original material for this repair and maintenance.

    And when you estimate how much they’re spending on copper and other roof repairs, consider how that money could have been applied to some serious renovating/remodeling/remuddling. But instead, they made a conscious decision to use appropriate, high quality materials to preserve the look of their church.

    Their commitment to,  and understanding of, the beauty and value of their building is heartbreakingly noble and life-affirming. Especially in light of Dotage St. Louis’ recent report on some seriously heinous remuddling of an art moderne building about 2 miles away from Resurrection.

    While I am sickened and saddened by what they’ve done to the face of the building, I’m also pragmatic: these are business owners who have made a commitment to stay in their building in this city, and in tight financial times, put their money toward improving their property. Taste is debatable and subjective, but there’s no arguing the fact that they have contributed to the sustainability of this community by staying put in an old, mid-century modern building. I’d rather see it tarted up like a misguided prosti-tot than be torn down for no good reason.

    So, the current owners of the Resurrection building seem to have a refreshing appreciation of the worth and beauty of their building, and their financial commitment to its upkeep is also like an insurance policy that this is one St. Louis City modern classic that can be removed off the Demolition Worry list. I hope their example can resonate with others who own buildings of this vintage, and that it inspires them to reconsider rash moves that can compromise the architectural integrity of this important chapter of our built environment legacy.

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    7 Responses to “Bright Future for a Mid-Century Modern Church”

    1. this is such wonderful news!!! my grandparents lived right around the corner from resurrection and dragged me to many a mass there as a child. i’ve always thought it was one of the most beautiful churches in saint louis. the interior, in particular, is a masterpiece. i hope this one sticks around for a long long time.

    2. steve carosello

      Very very nice.
      I’ve always wondered when exactly was the last time the Catholic church abandoned centuries of forward-thinking architecture and design in favor of somber olde tyme gothick, to inspire more blind, whimpering devotion (manifested in the One True Way: Cash.)

    3. churches have always (and of all denominations) discrded historic buildings as need was seen fit, whether re-building bigger over an existing structure or razing adjacent ones for expansion.
      an extreme example:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_di_San_Clemente

    4. Resurrection is still part of the Archdiocese. It is a Vietnamese Catholic church. Check out the Archdiocese link

      http://archstl.org/parish/resurrection-our-lord-st-louis

    5. [...] Resurrection Church 3900 Meramec, South St. Louis, MO 1954, Murphy & Mackey Click for more about this building. [...]

    6. Resurrection Church has been in continuous operation as a Roman Catholic Church since it was built. A few years ago it changed in status from a territorial parish (one that serves a marked territory to an ethnic parish that serves Vietnamese Catholics from around the St. Louis area. It remains an active parish of the St. Louis Archdiocese.

      Please edit the line in your article, “survived abandonment by the Catholic church.” This error is leading to uninformed comments such as the ones above.

    7. I went to the school as a child….. started in 1985 in kindergarten and left in 5th grade. I used to love hearing the big organ play on sundays….