Historic Photos - Early Churches

The First Churches of Chesterfield

By Ann Chrissos

Twelve churches were founded in the Chesterfield area between 1816 and 1923.  Nine of these churches continue to thrive.  Since the French and Spanish never settled in Chesterfield, the first church was founded by the early American settlers.  Most of these came from English, Scottish and Irish backgrounds and they were willing to attend the Bonhomme Presbyterian Church founded in 1816 by Joseph Conway Sr. and the widow Elizabeth Smith.  In 1841, a stone structure was erected, which continues to stand at Conway and White Roads.  Chesterfield Baptist Church was the second church founded in Chesterfield.  It was housed in a brick structure along Wild Horse Creek Road near Santa Maria Drive.  Storms destroyed the building in 1920 and the church ceased to exist.  Antioch Baptist Church was the third church to appear in Chesterfield also in 1841.  Whites and blacks worshipped together until a new church was constructed in 1869.  The white members moved to the new building, while the black members continued to worship in the original structure until 1922.  They renamed their church Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.  The next church to develop in Chesterfield was the First Baptist Church of Chesterfield in 1846.  Land for this church was donated by Leah Long for her slaves to build their own church.  It was located on the southeast corner of Wild Horse Creek Road and Chesterfield Parkway West, where a small cemetery still exists.  In 1996, it moved to its present location at 17103 Whild Horse Creek Road.  By 1892, German immigrants were tired of traveling to Ellisville or Manchester to attend worship services, so they began to establish their own churches.  The first of these German churches was St. John’s Evangelical & Reformed Church (today the United Church of Christ.)  Seventeen German farmers, who lived in the areas of Lake and Bellefontaine, built this church at 15370 Olive Boulevard.  It continues to thrive today.  Eight years later Trinity Lutheran Church opened in a small white wooden structure on the southeast corner of Clayton Road and Hwy. 141.  Today it is a large, active place for worship and education.  Trinity Methodist Church in Bellefontaine only functioned from 1903 to 1920.  St. Thomas United Church of Christ made its appearance in Gumbo (Chesterfield Valley) in 1907 and continues to flourish today.  St. Anthony’s was the first Catholic Church in the Chesterfield area of Centaur (Wildwood today).  It was initiated by Anton Leiweke.  Sunday liturgies were held in the one room schoolhouse which was restored by Michael Phelan in 2009.  It closed in 1948 and its parishioners became part of Ascension parish.  In 1922, Union Baptist Church became the eleventh church to be founded in the Chesterfield area.  African Americans built this church near Westland Acres where it continues to serve its members.  Ascension Catholic Church (1923-present) is the last of the early Chesterfield churches.  It began as a mission church of St. Anthony’s, but quickly grew into an independent parish.  Its centennial will be celebrated from April 2023 to May 2024.

For more information about the history of Chesterfield go to http://www.chesterfield.mo.us/historical-commission.html or visit the Chesterfield Heritage Museum at Chesterfield Mall.

The Chesterfield Historical Commission Book Committee.  Chesterfield, Missouri:  Untamed Wilderness to Thriving Municipality, 2011.
Chesterfield Historical Calendars.