The first settlers in the area were French, from Canada or New Orleans, and were nearly all Roman Catholic. They were of the parish of Carondelet-such a long way away that they were visited from time to time by the parish priest who traveled his parish much like the circuit-riding protestant ministers. As the population increased, churches were built closer to home, St. Peter's in Kirkwood served the great majority of Catholics. In 1878, St. Paul's in Fenton was built and to this day some of the parishioners of St. Paul's come from this side of the river. St. Catherine LaBoure was organized and built in 1955, to serve those Catholics living in Sunset Hills and Concord Village areas. By 1965, the population increase made it necessary to form yet another new parish and the church of St. Justin the Martyr was built on Eddie and Park Road. The Reverend Joseph Albrect was the first priest at St. Justin and made quite an impression on the entire community by calling on every household within the boundaries of his parish. An elementary school is connected with the church.
Concord Baptist Church
Eli Musick and his wife, Nancy Long Musick, David Fine and wife, and Judge Joseph Sale established Concord Baptist Church in 1809. A rock house was built and used as the church until the property was sold to Mr. Theiss. This home was where the Sinclair service station is today on Baptist Church Road and Lindbergh Boulevard. Not only has Baptist Church Road remained but the name they gave their little church has since been used as the name of the area "Concord". The present Concord Baptist Church was organized within the last 20 years.
Methodist ChurchMethodist Church
The Sappington family was quite ecumenical in spirit for we find Sappingtons that helped establish both Methodist and Presbyterian Churches. Sappington records speak of a log cabin Methodist Church that stood next to the Sappington Cemetery. Methodist records don't mention this location but it does not rule out the possibility that 1 existed. The first parsonage for a Methodist minister's family was built in 1837, in the "Gravois Settlement". Fenton had a Methodist church in 1839.
Evangelisch Church St. John's
In 1838 there were enough Germans in the area between Kirkwood and Mehlville to establish Evangelisch Kirsch. This was named St. John's, a church and parsonage were erected in 1838. There is a monument in the churchyard commemorating the fact that here was the first Evangelisch Church of the North American Synod established. The names of the founders are well known and interesting to us even though they lived further south. Jonas Mueller, Heinrich Mueller, John H. Mueller, John Wilhelm Crecelius, John Phillip Crecelius, Johan Happel, George Mehl, Peter Ochs, John Adam Runkel, Heinrich Schmidt, Friederich Wohlschlaeger, Johan Werner, Friederich Schneider, Dietrich Wolff, and Adam Theiss. Here the children learned catechism and German script. The sermons were preached in German until 1913, when 1 service a month was preached in English.
On March 1,1880 a group of men who were members of St. John's, Mehlville, met to organize St. Lucas Evangelical Church. Property was bought by Denny Road. The founder's committee members were Jocob Wohlschlaeger, Earnest Nollau, Philip Werner, Chris Tautpheaus, Henry Rott, J. H. Theiss, Fred Ruder, Louis Rott, Theobold Stolz, and Fred Kretchman. A beautiful greystone church was built in 1905, with Mr. Bopp as general contractor. In 1971, the present St. Lucas United Church of Christ was completed.
In the 1890's a Congregational Church was built on the corner of Parkholm and Denny Road. When the church disbanded, due to declining membership, the building was sold to Parkholm cemetery and was used as the caretaker's home. The white frame house still stands across the street from St. Lucas Parsonage.
Saint Thomas Lutheran Church
Saint Thomas Lutheran Church in America, Illinois Synod was begun as a mission endeavor in 1962. A 2 ½ acre church site was bought at Lindbergh Boulevard and Sunset Terrace and by February 19, 1967 the new building was dedicated. St. Thomas has had 2 pastors; The Reverend Edwin Peterman, 1961 to 1968 and the Reverend Samuel E Goins, 1969 to the present.
Church Relate Structures
There are also church related structures within Sunset Hills. Peace Heaven is a rest home run by the Christian Science Church, Rott Road at Geyer Avenue; the Paraclete Fathers Retreat House on Griesedieck property overlooking the Meramec River; and the Mill Hill Fathers, Hadley Hill Road and Gravois Road.
Brothers of Mary
Vianney High School and Maryhurst just north of Sunset Hills, are owned by the Brothers of Mary. This property originally belonged to Brown Orchid Farms. The big brown home, built in 1902, was called Brownhurst. The Brothers of Mary ran a boys' school called Chaminade College where Venture Department Store is today. Also connected with Maryhurst is the Marianist Art Gallery, especially known for the works of Brother Mel and Brother Cletus.