Photo 17-ICL-14

017 icl 14

Visitor Comments

This was St. Albert the Great church, school and gymnasium. It was on the corner of 159 (Illinois Street) and 50 (Lincoln Trail) in Fairview Heights. It was torn down around 2005 or 2006. There are now shops and a restaurant there.

St. Albert the Great Church was distinctive, round instead of a rectangle and topped by a white dome. It sat right on the area’s busiest intersection, Illinois 159 and Highway 50 in Fairview Heights. The inside was just as impressive with a 1,500-pound sculpture of Jesus with short hair to symbolize a modern-day Christ. Behind the altar were 100 crosses representing different crosses through Christianity’s history. Hovering above the pews was a massive chandelier featuring a crown of thorns overlaid by a crown of Mary.

Parishioner Norm Geolat and his brother-in-law, Monsignor Clement Schindler, designed the church after visiting 14 others in the St. Louis area. The round design came from Priory in St. Louis County and the raised seating was copied from a Jewish synagogue.

Parishioner Joe Kinsella built it in 1966 for $650,000. It took 18 months for his company to complete, and he ranked it as his singular achievement as a builder.

His crews pounded 96 pylons 50 feet deep to form a base for the four large pillars that supported the church. The roof was about 3.5 inches thick and poured from 700 tons of concrete — a spectacle that drew folks to the then-farm community and even caused a few accidents.

The dome was topped with a white fiberglass lantern brought in by helicopter.

After 40 years of serving the faithful and students of the parish school, the congregation just couldn’t refuse the $8.25 million offered by St. Clair Square’s owners for their 7.5 acres. St. Albert the Great made way for The Shoppes at St. Clair Square.

Demolition began in December 2005 on the school and continued on the church through January 2006.

St. Albert and Our Lady of the Assumption had merged in 2003 to become Holy Trinity. They built a new school and church complex for $16 million to the north off Illinois 159.

Your Comment

Do you have a connection to this photograph? Maybe you grew up here or know someone who did? What has changed in the 51 years since this photo was taken? Tell us!