The beautiful edifice that now houses the Washington University Catholic Student Center at 6352 Forsyth in Clayton, Missouri, was originally built in 1910 as a private residence for George W. Taylor, who was in the insurance business, and his wife, Ida Howe. The house was designed by Maritz & Young Architects and has many distinctive features - the legacy of European craftsmen who remained in St. Louis after the World’s Fair of 1904.
The couple invited her uncle -"Dr." A.H. Lewis, a pharmacist who used the title Doctor and developed a product called TUMS - to live with them on Forsyth. Dr. Lewis and Ida’s brother, James Howe formed a company called Lewis-Howe to market the TUMS product.
With the help of a domestic staff, Mrs. Taylor made sure the house and grounds were kept in impeccable condition. A family friend, Tamara Thomas, writes "…at Christmas the house was filled with music from the grand piano in the stairway hall. The acoustics were incredible." The children would play in the well-tended gardens and then go inside, select a Classic story from the voluminous library and read on the window seat at the top of the stairs which overlooked the Washington University Campus. Dinner was the "big event" of the day at which Ida Taylor presided with great relish.
The family ownership of the property ended when it was purchased by Elmer J. & Susan Steger from whom it was later acquired to be used as the Newman Center for the students at Washington University by Monsignor Gerard Glynn.
Monsignor Glynn had become Chaplain for the Washington University Newman Community in 1950. It was he, along with a group of patrons, who were extremely instrumental in acquiring and developing the facilities at 6352 Forsyth as the Center for Catholic Students of the University. A house at 221 S. Skinker was owned prior to the Forsyth acquisition.
In 1964 construction was completed on a wing adjoining the southwest corner of the residence. This wing extended over the spacious gardens, some of which remain on the south side of the present chapel. The addition includes the offices, a library, two large meeting spaces and the chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart. On the wall of the Chapel is a mural by Edward Boccia.
Monsignor Glynn continued his Newman ministry there until 1989 and was briefly replaced by Father Larch Fiedler. Since 1991 Father Gary Braun has been the director of the vibrant, active community.
Various bits of information above were furnished by some of those named therein and we thank them for their contributions.
Mary Ann StohrOctober 21, 1996
Description of the Mural
The main symbol of the mural is the abstract figure of Christ. The shattered, splintered, fragmented figure on the cross mirrors the sometimes fragmented experience of humanity today. The abstract combines symbols of man with those of pelican piercing its own breast to feed its young, a symbol of Christ’s Sacrifice on the cross and the Sacrament of Eucharist.
On the left is a tulip, the ancient symbol of woman, Mary Mother of Jesus and a chalice representing the promise of New Life. The moon is another ancient symbol of Mary, reflecting the light of love from her son, Jesus.
On the right is a peacock, an ancient symbol for the mystery of the Resurrection. The Resurrection not only of Jesus, but the hope of new life offered to each of us.
In the center of the mural, a black dot. This dot not only represents the center of the mural, but the mysteries of life and the mystery of faith that believes that Christ is the Light, the candle lit in the darkness.
Artist: Ed Boccia, Professor Emeritus, Washington University