The Museum of the Western Jesuit Missions

700 Howdershell Road, Box 1095 Florissant, MO. 63031
(at the old St. Stanislaus Seminary opposite Riverwoods subdivision)


Note: This Museum Has Been Closed. The Jesuit Order has removed all artifacts and moved them to St. Louis University. Only the grounds, building remain. Graves will be relocated at a future date to Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

For directions to the Museum and location within the old St. Stanislaus Seminary, please see Map.

The St. Stanislaus Story

AS the pioneers tamed the land and the railroadmen hooked one coast to another, a dynamic yet gentle force, originating from St. Stanislaus Seminary, colored American life from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. It educated the Indians, established parishes among the newly arrived immigrants settling along the Missouri River, opened universities settling along the Missouri River, opened universities in what were then rugged frontier towns, and it spawned books that influenced American thinking for 150 years.

Encouraged by Bishop Louis W.V. DuBourg of Louisiana Territory and U.S. President James Monroe, eight Belgian Jesuit missionaries built a log residence and Indian school, thus beginning St. Stanislaus Seminary in 1823.

The Rock Museum Building, a beautiful example of the Greek Revival Architectural style, replaced the original log structures in 1840. Its three foot thick walls are of limestone quarried from the bluffs of the Missouri River by the Jesuit seminarians and brothers. They fashioned all the doors and wood work from massive walnut, timbered on the seminary property, and fired bricks on the spot. At one time St. Stanislaus was totally self-sufficient, like a medieval monastery. Its 999 acres included an orchard, chicken ranch, cattle barn, wheat fields, vine-yards, butcher shop, creamery and bakery. After the seminary closed in 1971, the newer building were sold to the Gateway College of Evangelism. But with the hard work of Fr. Claude Heithaus, S.J., Professor of Classical Archeology, the Old Rock Building was preserved as a museum of Jesuit history.

The Museum has many treasures:


The Museum sponsors special programs on major occasions. It is also available for organizations wishing to combine a meeting and a tour.






In the  Chapel...The 19th Century Metz Organ is the oldest St. Louis-made organ surviving in the area and the only remaining organ in the Metz tradition. The builder, German-born William Metz, organized his St. Louis-based firm in 1846.  The vibrant tones of his musical instruments filled Catholic and Lutheran churches in St. Louis and in many small towns in the Mississippi valley.

On Ground Level...A collection of tools, weapons and traps used by the pioneer Jesuits of St. Stanislaus during the last century is displayed in the South Room.

On the Second Floor...Four centuries of chalices from Belgium, France, Italy, the United States and Canada are on exhibit.  The chalices, dating back to the 1650's, were used in Jesuit ministries throughout the American Midwest.

In the Library...A rare collection of Greek and Latin books dating from 1521 to 1800 is on exhibit.  Many of them were brought to this country by Father Peter DeSmet.

On the Top Floor...Seminary classroom from the mid-1800's, the Alumni Author's Room and a replica of William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre by John Harris.

Throughout the Museum...Baroque and Rococo paintings hang in rooms throughout the museum.  Many were sent by Madame De Theux to her son, Theodore De Theux, who left the life of the Belgian nobility to serve as a priest on the American frontier.

Memorial Mound at St. Stanislaus, being visited by reunion of 1947 Jubilarians (28 June 1997)

Some Early Burials:

Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit Missionary descends the Mississippi River in 1673. Painting by O. E. Berninghaus


Flint Cross made by Illini Indian which Father Marquette received as gift. This is just one of the treasures now on display at the Museum of Western Jesuit Missions.

Related Pages:


History's Time Portal to Old St. Louis

You are the 45512th Visitor to this Site. This page was last updated Monday, 11-Nov-2002 10:23:40 CSTby Scott K. Williams, Florissant, Mo.