Artifact: Two Large and two smaller acanthus leaves, parts of interior capitals
Material: Cast iron
Length: 20-1/2” , 13-1/2″ and 10-1/2″
Origin: St Bridget of Erin church, 1100 North Jefferson st. St Louis.
Architect: John F Mitchell, St Louis, (Cornerstone laid on Aug 7th, 1859)
Demolition of St. Bridget of Erin, one of the oldest churches in St. Louis, underway
Feb 24, 2016
Coming down is St. Bridget of Erin, a stately brick church whose cornerstone was laid in 1859 and which for decades served St. Louis’ Kerry Patch Irish Catholics.
Demolition of the church at the intersection of North Jefferson Avenue and Carr Street began this week. The owner, De La Salle Inc, is spending about $242,000 to have the church torn down as part of an expansion of its La Salle Middle School.
La Salle, a charter school, plans to move in August to the North Jefferson address from 4145 Kennerly Avenue, De La Salle bought St. Bridget and an adjoining school in October. The Archdiocese of St. Louis closed St. Bridget in 2003, and in 2012 shut down the school, built a century after the church.
Andrew Weil, executive director of Landmarks Association of St. Louis, lamented St. Bridget’s demolition. He noted that the church is in the 5th Ward, which lacks “preservation review” of building demolition applications. As a result, the city was powerless to halt St. Bridget’s demolition, Weil said.
“This demo would never be allowed in a preservation review ward,” he said. “It is a real loss.”
According to the archdiocese, St. Bridget was built to serve an Irish parish organized in 1853. A girls’ school run by the Sisters of St. Joseph and a boys’ school run by the Christian Brothers began there in 1871. From 1927 to 1936 it served Kenrick Prep Seminary and High School.
Many years later, the school served children who lived at the now-demolished Pruitt-Igoe housing complex a block away.
Before and after stripping, cleaning and oiling two of the leaves
The cast iron was cast in two pieces per leaf and joined together with a mortise and tenon type joint using molten lead to secure them. They are exquisitely executed in a very bold curving top form in the middle of the best period of ornamental cast-iron in America.
The original patterns for the leaves would have been carved out of a fine grained soft wood such as basswood, after sanding them smooth and probably shellacked they would have been used in the foundry to make green sand molds for casting the iron in, each leaf required it’s own use-once sand mold made from the wood patterns. Once the iron was cast the sand mold was broken away from the casting and the casting was cleaned up, mounting holes drilled and then primer and paint applied.
I am considering casting some in black resin and replicating one of the wood forms to recreate one of the capitals, only the leaves were saved.