December 6, 2015
Group hopes to preserve historic SLU Hospital chapel
SAMANTHA LISS, DECEMBER 06, 2015 10:00 AM
St. Louis, MO (December 6, 2015) – More than 50 people filed into the quiet chapel at St. Louis University Hospital on Saturday afternoon, filling almost every pew, yet they weren't gathering for Mass.
Rather, the group, Les Amis, was there to see and hear more about the historic elements of the Chapel of Christ the Crucified King that opened in 1933. The group is dedicated to preserving and showcasing French colonial history in the mid-Mississippi River Valley.
Leading the group was Christopher Desloge, the great-grandson of Firmin V. Desloge, whose estate in 1930 provided $1 million to build the original hospital structure, and the family later contributed funds to build the chapel.
The new owner of St. Louis University Hospital, Creve Coeur-based SSM Health, plans to build a new $500 million hospital and outpatient center nearby, and the group wants to make sure the original hospital structure, or at least the chapel and some of its elements, are preserved.
SSM has said it has not made any decisions about what it plans to do with the original hospital building or the chapel.
"I think it's wonderful," Desloge said of the turnout. "It's wonderful to have these minds here and awareness about a chapel that people don't know much about."
The chapel was designed by the influential architect Ralph Adams Cram, who was renowned for Gothic Revival-style churches.
Sitting in the pews, attendees' heads swiveled from wall to wall as they peered up at the vibrant stained glass windows, listening to Anne Craver's interpretation of what each pane symbolizes.
The crucifix at Chapel of Christ the Crucified King at St. Louis University
The stained glass windows were designed by artisan Rodney M. Winfield of the famed local company Emil Frei, she said.
The chapel is unlike a typical hospital chapel that is tucked away in a small room. It more closely mirrors an actual Roman Catholic Church, and the actual inspiration for the chapel was the Sainte-Chappelle in Paris, known for its towering stained glass windows, according to Craver.
Chairman of Les Amis, Elizabeth Sayad, said the chapel, is "a very special part of our French heritage."
Firmin V. Desloge, namesake for the original hospital structure, founded both Desloge Lead Co. and the city of Desloge as a company town in 1890.
He would go on to become one of the richest individuals in the St. Louis area and left a $1 million bequest to his alma mater, St. Louis University, to build a hospital. His wife, Lydia, later donated $100,000 to build the hospital's chapel.