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The "Castles" of Normandy and Bel-Nor

Categories: Architecture

Marillac College
NaffzigerMarillac.JPG
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

NaffzigerIncarnateConvent.JPG
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 naffziger@gmail.com


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16 comments
Uncommon_Sense
Uncommon_Sense

Great article.  Maybe another article could go deeper into the St. Vincent hospital story, which I have heard is quite interesting.


I understand it was built to be accessible from the streetcar tracks and the hospital had its own stop.  There are some old stairs going down the hill that are now part of the St. Vincent park property.

John Bentley
John Bentley

Neat, Now we lock up the mentally ill when they self medicate with marijuana.. Can we talk about the rich white history of Webster groves??? Something about trains,clay mines and slaves...

WilsonHunt
WilsonHunt

Thanks for the article Mr. Naffziger, keep them coming please.  

Tom Flowers
Tom Flowers

Wish I could go look at them without risking my life

shannon_howard
shannon_howard

Thanks for this article, Chris! Many of us who live in NoCo grew up in the shadow of these architectural gems, and it's such a delight to see them finally getting the attention they deserve. I went to Incarnate Word so the convent has special meaning for me, as does St. Vincent's & nearby Marillac. I could tell you some stories! :))

Robin Gray
Robin Gray

Chris , is St. Vincent what you see from an airplane?

Chandra Harris
Chandra Harris

Since the old St. Vincent's asylum is now sec 8 housing , I'm wondering if anyone can just walk in - does anyone know if it's set up with an office inside ? Im SO dying to get in there, if it's just in the main hallway . Once when stalking the outside, I spoke to a little girl riding her bike around the parking lot . I asked her what it was like living there and she said she loved " The Castle " but the janitor is very strict in not allowing anyone atop the top floor, which is closed off .

Carrie Daugherty
Carrie Daugherty

lived in noco all my life. never knew any of this! thanks for the history lesson!

Uncommon_Sense
Uncommon_Sense

Tom,

Most of the areas mentioned in the article are quite safe.  You should get out more often.

wump
wump

what a faggot pussy.  come down to the city and Ill give you something to cry about

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