The "Castles" of Normandy and Bel-Nor

Categories: Architecture

Marillac College
The former Marillac College, now UMSL's south campus.

The Daughters of Charity, another order of nuns dedicated to St. Vincent de Paul, built their convent west of the railroad tracks in the heart of the former Lucas estate. The massive convent rises above a hill, looking like a Medieval fortress overlooking a lord's domain. In the 1950s the Daughters founded Marillac College and built an elegant Modernist campus to the north. Alas, the tumult of the 1960s spelled the end for dozens of women's colleges across America, and Marillac College suffered the same fate when it closed in 1974. Now the south campus of UMSL, this interesting relic of Catholic learning still serves as a university setting.

Incarnate Word Convent

The former Incarnate Word Convent at 2900 Bellerive Drive.
The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word moved out to the Normandy area at the beginning of the twentieth century, founding Incarnate Word Academy. While the sisters originally lived in an old Lucas family mansion, they soon outgrew those quarters and built the stately convent now known as UMSL's Normandie Hall. The Romanesque Revival building fuses pink granite pilasters with a rich golden yellow brick, creating a unique and fascinating blend of seemingly disparate materials. When the sisters gave up the convent to UMSL in 1991, it became the university's first residence hall. I will talk more next week about its impending demolition, and how the loss of this building will be a blow to the Normandy and Bel-Nor community.

Lynn Josse and Daron Dierkes provided valuable information for this article.

Chris Naffziger writes about architecture at St. Louis Patina. Contact him via e-mail at

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