STL 250: The 1858 Fire

As St. Louis turns 250 this year (learn more at STL250), the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet join the celebration by sharing bits of our own 175+ years of history in St. Louis, the city of our founding. Look for new posts every Friday throughout 2014.

The 1858 Fire


STL 250: the 1858 FireOn this date, January 21, 1858, Mother St. John Facemaz faced her first major crisis since taking office [1857]. A fire destroyed a large part of the convent at Carondelet, including the log cabin that had been the first permanent home of the Sisters of St. Joseph in America.


When the fire struck, illness had confined Mother St. John to bed. She and another ailing sister were saved by being helped out of second story windows and carried away from the danger zone.


"The methods of the Carondelet fire department were still rather primitive; but the firemen, reinforced by many of the citizens and by the faculty and students of the ecclesiastical Seminary, who worked heroically under the direction of Father Feehan, succeeded in saving the north wing, in which were located the principal departments of the academy. A relic of Saint Agnes was placed in the corner stone of this wing when it was built by Mother Celestine in 1840; and the Sisters piously believed that through the young martyr's intercession [January 21 being her feast day] came the favorable wind that directed the flames southward. These encircled the log cabin convent in their fury, and the only visible link connecting Saint Joseph's with pioneer days disappeared."


From "The History of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the Vice Province of Peru" by Mary M. McGlone, CSJ and "The Congregation of St. Joseph of Carondelet" by Sister Mary Lucida Savage, CSJ


Posted February 21 2014


Thank you to province archivist, Sister Jane Behlmann for providing these pieces. If you are a history buff, you may like to subscribe to her Jewels from Jane e-mails in which she shares fascinating articles, writings and images from our rich history.  Sign up for Jewels from Jane.


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