Built St. Louis > > MidCentury Modernism > > St. Ann of Normandy Church

St. Ann of Normandy Catholic Church
7530 Natural Bridge Road, Normandy - inner NW County
Architect: Joseph Murphy, 1947
Date of completion: 1951

Stained Glass - Emil Frei Co.
Artists - Emil Frei Jr. and Robert Harmon
Front sculpture: Hillis Arnold

As a very early example of post-war Modernism in the St. Louis, St. Ann occupies a special place in the city's architectural history, as the first Catholic church in the Modernist idiom. Archbishop Joseph Ritter encouraged this move towards Modernism, and paid close attention to the work at St. Ann. He gave his personal approval to the great window that is the church's centerpiece. St. Ann would be the first of many Modernist Catholic churches in the following two decades.

St. Ann was widely publicized by the press, and received numerous writeups. Planning was well underway in 1947 when Architectural Record included the unbuilt church in an article on religious structures. Original plans called for a chapel in front of the new building, retaining the previous church building's bell tower and built of salvaged materials from the old sanctuary, as well as an off-center rose window on the front facade. (Why the chapel was not built remains unclear, though it seems today it would certainly be in the way of the widened Natural Bridge Road.) Later articles appeared in Architectural Forum and Liturgical Arts, along with the contemporary Murphy-Frei collaborations at Resurrection and St. Peter.

Clad in the orange brick so typical of the era, the exterior is largely unadorned. The interior is a serene and tranquil space, dominated at one end by an enormous stained glass window.

Gallery 1: Exterior

Gallery 2: Interior

See a complete gallery of the stained glass on the Emil Frei tour.

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