St. Ludger Church


Germantown,  Henry County,  Missouri

For the German immigrants who settled together in western Henry County, 1854 was a milestone year.  John B. Miege, S.J., Vicar Apostolic of Indian and Kansas Territory, journeyed from the Osage Mission (St. Paul, Kansas) to their mission to confirm 11 people on Ascension Day.  He was the first bishop to visit their community.  His party, including two Sisters of Loretto of the Holy Cross, arrived in two carriages with drivers and two yoke of oxen.

Three years later, the town of Germantown was established.  The community prospered and it was determined that a larger church was needed.  The new church was built of native bluestone and wood frame construction.  Members of the parish supplied the materials.  John Cast and his brothers were given the stone contract and parishioners volunteered much of the labor.  The church was 40 feet wide and 80 feet long.

The St. Ludger Church  community continued to grow and construction began in 1921 on a larger church.

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, “the St. Ludger Italianate Romanesque Revival church is a basilica plan with shortened transept and a five-sided apse projecting from the north elevation  Construction begins on St. Ludger Church, Germantown of the building.

Combining brick and stone became a practical and decorative adaptation of the Italianate Romanesque churches.  To provide textural diversity, the church is constructed of red brick, which is broken by recessed panels, soldier coursing, and a series of small brick arches at the top of the south façade….Phenix cut limestone, which lends itself to carving and sculpting, is used for the water table, window sills, façade and lower belt courses, façade and tower columns, imposts, façade arches, and gable roof coping to provide visual articulation of form against the red brick body of the church.  The church is approximately 112 feet north to south and 73 feet east to west….

The south façade of the church is composed of two symmetrical columns that punctuate the roof gable.  The engaged columns frame the three main entryways and the set of three arched, stained glass windows for the second floor choir gallery.  The choir windows are set in an arched recessed brick panel that is framed by end and rowlock courses of brick.  Small brick baptistery arches are located near the top of the engaged columns and under the gable.  The engaged columns extend above the gable and terminate with limestone pedimented capitals.  The gable is capped with limestone coping.  A cross is l o c a t ed at the apex of the gable.  The two side entryways are each framed by limestone pilasters.  Limestone Tuscan columns frame the central double door entryway.  Cut limestone pediment arches with semi-circular limestone transoms are mounted over both the pilasters and columns.  The limestone pediment arches provide the most ornate display of sculpture on the church.  Each limestone transom is defined with a carved circular symbol.  An enlarged keystone with carved cross defines the central entryway arch.  The pediments are capped with Tuscan cornices….

The bell tower measures 60 feet in height and holds the historic bell of 1892 and the second bell, purchased in 1904.  It is located in the northeast corner of the floor plan.  The tower is a separate freestanding brick structure except for the attachment to the main building at the lowest elevation only.”

Source:  Germantown, Missouri and St. Ludger Church 1833-2002, and
National Register of Historic Places application










Above – 1921 laying of cornerstone and lower course of Phenix cut limestone.  Stone features a stippled finish brought about by use of bush hammer
Right- limestone course & cornerstone today, native reclaimed limestone faces foundation shown exposed in above construction photograph.

As with the construction of the previous churches, the parishioners worked together to raise this new church.  Emmett Kling, Sr., whose grandfather was a German immigrant, directed much of the stone work and trained parishioners to cut and lay up the stone foundations.  Kling was a second generation stonecutter whose company, Kling Memorials had shops in Nevada, Butler and Lee’s Summit.


Source: Family history records, Mrs. Emmett Kling, Butler, MO.

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