Old St. Ferdinand Shrine in Florissant is among the most famous of Missouri’s landmarks. The Church and the adjoining buildings, the Convent and Rectory, and the Schoolhouse form a group of buildings of unusual historical and architectural importance, significant enough to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church has been separately included in the Historic American Buildings Survey. The convent, built in 1819 for Mother Philippine Duchesne, now Saint Philippine, was the first to be constructed. 1821 saw the construction of a new church to replace the log church that had served the community since 1789. The rectory was added in 1840, the schoolhouse first floor in 1887 and the second story in 1888. Through the years, time and floods have taken their toll, along with a devastating lightning strike in 1966. Both the convent and the church are older than the Old Cathedral in Saint Louis and are now approaching their 200th anniversaries. Throughout most of this time, Saint Ferdinand Parish maintained the buildings, but the parish outgrew the church and school, and in 1957 it moved to a new location. To preserve the original buildings, Florissant residents organized the Friends of Old St. Ferdinand, which was incorporated in December 1958. Since that time, the Friends have continued preserving the buildings and grounds. But preservation could not have happened without the coming together of the community at large with the funds required for rebuilding following the fire caused by the 1966 lightning strike. The repair needs of the buildings are again many and beyond the volunteer support available. The level of community support that occurred after the fire is again urgently required if we are to continue our mission.
The immediate needs are masonry repairs with cleaning, moisture sealing and some tuck pointing of all the brick buildings; repairs and painting of the rectory porch (both floors); the convent porch; major window work with some sash replacement, painting and puttying all others. The handicap ramp needs to be replaced. The church doors need repair and paint, and there is some moisture control problems associated with sump pump plumbing. The total cost of these repairs will be, at a minimum, $400,000. In addition, a major item not included is the repair of the church ceiling: the need is critical and the cost will be great. We are working to develop a plan for the repair of the ceiling and raising the funds for the cost involved. The necessity of all of these repairs is critical: we must act now to maintain St. Ferdinand Shrine.
Our campaign to raise funds will begin by the first of September. We will inform you about how you will be able to help Save St. Ferdinand Shrine through our newsletter showing photos of the distressed areas, our website will have information; press releases will be issued, along with other avenues of publicity. If you would like to be on our mailing list to receive additional information, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact information.
Office hours: Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. Phone number 314-837-2110.
The Shrine tells the story of our ancestors in Florissant and their part in making the United States of America a nation of dedicated individuals, determined to keep their community strong and viable. Let us keep that spirit alive, the same spirit that rebuilt the Shrine after the fire.