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The Old Cathedral

Architect: Joeseph C. Laveille and George Morton, 1831-34; renovated 1963

The Basillica of St. Louis, King of France, is more commonly known as the Old Cathedral -- a nickname it gained after its replacement by the New Cathedral in the Central West End (itself nearly a hundred years old.) It is St. Louis's most prominently located church, architecturally significant and rich with history. It stands on a site designated for church use by the city's founder, was the first Cathedral west of the Mississippi River, and was the first major Greek Revival building in Missouri.

The form of the building is simple: a rectangular sanctuary under a gabled roof is fronted by a vestibule, with a stone spire above. Massive Doric columns frame a front portico that welcomes visitors to a serene and refined sanctuary. The squared off front reflects the urban street wall that was once the building's context.

The Old Cathedral is one of the city's oldest buildings, and the only one that survived the complete demolition of the 40 city blocks on the ground that now holds the Gateway Arch. It stands today in an alien context, the sole indication that the acres of empty land around it were once something very different.

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