Tuesday, January 03, 2006

St. Stephen's, Kansas City, Missouri

St. Stephen's was at the intersection of East 11th & Benton Boulevard. This Far By Faith didn't indicate which corner. Judging by the age of the buildings on the other three corners of the intersection, St. Stephen's must have stood in the empty lot shown.
I didn't linger long at this corner. Most of the churches I've shot over the last several weeks have been in deteriorated neighborhoods--places where soccer moms don't take their minivans. However this is the first place I really felt unsafe--the first place I wish I hadn't taken my daughter. Was it the folks stumbling drunk up the street towards us? Was it the run-town tavern across the street? Was it the loose, mangy dogs? Maybe a little of all three. I'll see what more I can learn by spending a little time in This Far by Faith once I get my checkout copy from the library.

UPDATE February 23, 2006

Well, it turns out that the vacant lot isn't St. Stephen's at all. It's just a vacant lot. I wrote down the wrong address. St. Stephens, now Our Lady of Peace consolidated parish, is at 1029 Bennington, not 1029 Benton. Oops.

St. Stephen originated with a land purchase by Bishop Hogan in 1888. A frame church was built at another location, moved to the present site, and burned to the ground in 1913. The cornerstone for the present church was laid in 1919. Due to donated labor from the men of the parish, the church was built for only $50,000. The church, which I need to get a shot of, is French Gothic with varigated stone towers. The main altar and communion rail were built later--befinning in 1934. The growth of the parish continued past 1959, when a new school was built, and the decline began before 1970, when the school enrollment fell below 200.

In 1972, the parish used funds from the sale of a couple of houses donated to the parish, to redo the interior. I haven't been in this church, so I don't know how bad a job they did, but This Far by Faith reports that ther were "Wall hangings, 18' feet [sic] in length, were designed for the space above the baptistry and were changed wit hthe seasons. " I think that's enough to let the imagination go. An interior shot from before the renovation is above.

St. Stephens, St. John the Baptist, and Holy Trinity were combined in to Our Lady of Pease on February 4, 1991.

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