Celebrating 100 years of the St. John's building

Celebrating 100 years of the St. John's building
Posted on 11/04/2022
St. John's School buildingWe welcomed St. John's School, St. Louis Community College, SCOPE School and MOSAIC Elementary School students and staff who have called the St. John's building home during the past century for an Open House. St. John's first opened its doors in January 1923 and will be celebrating its 100th anniversary.
St. John's Open House
Image: Debbie and Tom Danner view photos of classes at the St. John's building from the past century. It wasn't until after they were married in 1977 that the Danners realized that they were in the same kindergarten class at St. John's School in 1959.

Attendees at the Open House had the opportunity to learn about the history of the building, reunite with friends, share stories and receive a tour of the building from MOSAIC Elementary School leadership students. .

Watch this video or continue reading below to learn more about the history of the St. John's building.

The history of the St. John’s building 
The log cabin housing the original St. John’s School was completed in 1842 on Green Park Road. Students learned there for over 50 years before the school was relocated to a small two-room building constructed at the intersection of Lemay Ferry Road and Will Avenue.

"They decided that location was too far north and more of the population was down this way," said Larry Franke. Franke's family owned the land where the St. John's building is today.  

The first building of St. John's School on Will Avenue was a brick two-room schoolhouse that opened in 1895.  A growing population created the need for a larger building, and the St. John’s building that still stands today welcomed students for the first time in January 1923.
St. John's School in 1923
Image: Students stand in front of the St. John's building shortly after it opened in Jan. 1923.

"When they decided to build this building, everything was going to get torn down," said Franke. "My grandparents said they would take a white frame building that was behind the school, so they loaded it up on wagons and moved it to their house three doors down. That building is still there today." 

The population in the area continued to grow. This created a need to expand the school. In 1957, a new wing was added, including eight classrooms, a multipurpose room, a cafeteria and a gym. Mehlville School District operated the building as St. John’s School until 1981 when the school was closed.

The following year, the district leased the building to St. Louis Community College who operated their South Campus location out of St. John’s for nearly two decades before moving to their current location on Meramec Bottom Road. 

"It was pretty bare and not near as decorated as it is today," said Rich Vagen. Vagen attended St. Louis Community College at St. John's, and his daughter now attends MOSAIC Elementary School. "Even back then, it was set up for younger kids, so all of the sinks were at your knees."

The St. John’s building sat vacant for a couple of years following the community college’s departure. There were talks of tearing it down or even turning it into an apartment complex.

Then, Mehlville School District decided to relocate SCOPE, the district’s alternative school, to the St. John’s building in 2006. SCOPE had previously been located in a storefront, so the move was a welcome change for staff and students. 

"We were very happy to occupy this building because we had space," said Pollie Richardson, former director of SCOPE. "We had actual classrooms where the students could feel like they were in an actual school. We hosted a prom here. We hosted graduation here. We were able to do a lot of things we could not do at the storefront." 

SCOPE students attended St. John’s for a decade before relocating to the Witzel building across Lemay Ferry Road in 2017. That year, the district opened MOSAIC Elementary School in the St. John’s building, and students continue to attend today.

MOSAIC Elementary students todayImage: MOSAIC Elementary School has called the St. John's Building home since 2017. MOSAIC Elementary focuses on providing students with personalized, collaborative learning opportunities.

"It's an honor for us to be able to continue the heritage of this building," said Dr. Scott Clark, MOSAIC Elementary School. "Our goal now is the same as it was in 1922. We want to serve our community, to support our students and our families and to help them be the very best they can be.
The Mehlville School District strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees, students or others on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sex including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity and other characteristics protected by law. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: contact Adam Smith at 314-467-5006 or [email protected].