FLORISSANT, Mo. – Leaders from one of Missouri’s oldest churches are working to pick up the pieces after significant flood damage from Tuesday’s torrential rainfall.
The Old St. Ferdinand Shrine has called Florissant home since 1819. The shrine consists of four historic buildings, a convent, church, rectory and schoolhouse all built in the 19th century. Since 1979, all four buildings have been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as the St. Ferdinand’s Shrine Historic District.
Carol Campbell, director of the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, estimates around three feet of water entered the convent, church and rectory, while at least two feet entered the schoolhouse.
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“This is pretty devastating to us, but we have strong faith that it’s going to work out, we’ll rebuild and continue on,” Campbell tells FOX2.
Among the damages includes the original flooring installed in the church in 1821. Campbell says the flooring has buckled from previous floods, but generally gets back into place over time. The shrine is developing a plan to dry the floors over several days.
The shrine also added several new air conditioning units last year, all of which were destroyed by the flooding. In the schoolhouse, many appliances are lost or no longer operational due to flooding. Some benches and tables were also damaged due to flooding.
“It’s a tremendous amount of damage,” said Campbell. “The problem we’re encountering is how we go about assessing that type of damage.”
Campbell says the shrine has been in contact with insurance agencies and some repairs, clean-up and restoration efforts are planned for the site later this week.
The shrine is located at 1 St. Francois Street near Cold Water Creek and Fountain Creek, leading to some enhanced risks for flooding. While that isn’t a new issue, Campbell says the flooding damage is unlike anything that she recalls the church has ever seen.
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Campbell says the shrine survives from the generosity of others, and she remains optimistic amid the ongoing situation.
“We have always rebuilt and we will do it again,” said Campbell.
The shrine will be closed for an undisclosed amount of time. A wedding and a few other upcoming events have been canceled. A GoFundMe has been organized to help the shrine after Tuesday’s flooding.
Old St. Ferdinand Shrine’s church is considered to be one of the oldest standing churches in the 1804 Louisiana Purchase Territory and the state of Missouri. Historians say French settlers arrived to the general area of the shrine in the 1780s. For a closer look at the site’s history, click here.