Tucked into the North Bottoms area (off Front Street) in Kansas City, Missouri, in the midst of an industrial area, between two railyards, is a poor, dilapidated residential neighborhood. A kind reader who knows a thing or two about old Kansas City churches suggested I go there to find St. Dominic's. What I found was the the Damascus Road Apostolic Church, formerly St. Francis Seraph. Perhaps it was retitled St. Dominic's at some point. The whole parish plant is a mess. The school is a junkyard, the Rectory has broken windows and an open door. The church has several panels broken out of the stained glass. The remnants of a road grader sit alongside the south transcept.
A woman down the street watched me carefully as I took pictures, so I drove down to visit with her and assure her there was no need to call the police; I was just engaged in a morbid but harmless hobby of mine. I'm glad I did; she had something to say about the place. She couldn't tell me exactly when the church closed, but she said her neighbor knew there was a big auction and everything in the church was sold at one time. She said they had a lot vagrants living in the rectory and at one time a lot of people doing drugs there. The old school building (apparently of late 1940s/early 1950s architecture) is now a junkyard, complete with pitbull (look carefully and you can see him barking at me. She indicated that Queen of Peace was the parish she goes to know (she didn't seem like the type to know whether that was the actual canonical parish for this area now, so I didn't ask). She also tipped me off to Holy Trinity, in the Lykins neighborhood, which I'll post next.
Does anybody have any history on this? When did it close? Why (besides the obvious)? What about the school? What was the interior like?
FEBRUARY 14, 2006
From This Far by Faith. St. Francis Seraph was founded in 1977 by Bishop Hogan, who appointed Fr. William McCormick as Pastor. A small frame church was built in 1887. The parish was to be "mixed," i.e., all nationalities within the geographic boundaries were expected to attend it. The gospel was reread in English, German, Flemish and French, and preaching was in English and German, with French and Flemish on special occastions. A school and a recotry were built by 1897. In 1903, a flood severely damaged the entire parish plant, but they rebuilt. In 1920, land was purchased for a new church to be built in a Lombardy Romanesque style, the one shown above, and the cornerstone was laid in 1924. The parish was always very poor. The school building shown above was built in 1941 at a cost of $37,779, and it was closed in 1962, when the kiddos were packed off to Assumption school. In 1970, the building was sold for $65,000.
Following the 1951 floods, most of the area served by the parish was rezoned and redeveloped as industrial. The parish, which had been served by diocesan priests, and then Franciscans, was given to the care of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Don't know anything about 'em. By 1984, there were only 86 Catholics living in 56 households within the parish boundaries.
Effective 1991, St. Francis Seraph was suppressed, along with St. John the Baptist and Assumption, and the three parishes formed St. Anthony of Padua at the Assumption facilities at Benton Blvd and Lexington. The church and rectory were sold to Phoenix Office Supply for $40,000.