built in 1905
The story of La Maison begins in 1906 with a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the construction of a two-story church that would later become St. Pius V School.
There was a growing Catholic population in St. Louis in the late 1800s and early 1900s, as large numbers of Catholic immigrants moved into the city. In 1905, it was estimated that 69% of the church affiliated population was Catholic.
Compulsory education until the age of 14 and the large Catholic population inspired the decision to build a church that would also house a school. Its location on Grand Avenue was ideal for its proximity to a new streetcar.
Fundraising efforts raised $35,000 in one month, and architects Joseph Stauber and Sons and construction company P.G. Johnson and Company quickly were hired.
The basement, which was completed first, was used as a classroom while construction on the cistern and the upper two floors was finished. Once construction was complete, the basement was converted to a gathering space, the west portion of the first floor served as a residential space, the east side of the first floor was used for classrooms and the second floor was reserved for the church. The school was lit by gaslight during this time.
This layout only lasted a year. In September 1907, the entire first floor was converted into classrooms to meet the demands of increased enrollment. This pattern continued over the years as the parish and school continued to grow. In 1916, construction began on a new building that would be used for church services and in 1923, a prefabricated building was constructed for a gymnasium and a third floor was added to the school for an auditorium.
The school had been operating for almost 100 years when decreased enrollment shuttered the school’s doors in 2003. St. Pius V School was combined with Notre Dame Elementary to form St. Frances Cabrini Academy. When this information was relayed to families in the school’s basement, it was delivered in two languages --- English and Vietnamese -- as half of the schools’ population were Vietnamese.
St. Pius V School was not alone in its enrollment struggles; it was one of six parochial schools closed that year due to low enrollment.
The school building remained vacant until 2016 when it was once again transformed to meet the needs of the community.