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School History

ST. PETER INTERPARISH SCHOOL





St. Peter Interparish Catholic School
Established 1854

Constructed in 1888-1890
H. J. Wallau, Contractor
Frank Miller, Architect
Dedicated on April 7, 1890

Part of
MISSOURI STATE CAPITOL HISTORIC DISTRICT
Officially Listed in the
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES, JUNE 18, 1976




        St. Peter is the "Mother Church" for Roman Catholics of Jefferson City, and from it sprang other parishes in later years. The original little church was build on High Street in 1846.  A parishioner, Mr. F. Roer, taught parochial classes in his home free of charge.

        In 1854, St. Peter School was established with the construction of a small brick school near the church.  Because of the rapid growth of the city and the congregation, a larger church was built in 1857, and in 1882, an even larger one which is the present church.  The old frame church was converted into a school to provide more classroom space.  The parish would soon outgrow these buildings as well.

        A three-story Convent School was completed in 1868 at the corner of Broadway and High Street taught by four School Sisters of Notre Dame.  The first four sisters arrived on January 6, 1868 and the following Monday school opened with an enrollment of 38 pupils.  Before the end of the year, the enrollment had increased to 120.  In 1872, a boy's school was constructed where the current school stands, but as enrollment grew rapidly, a larger facility was planned.

        The original portion of the present school was erected in 1888-1890.  The basement held six meeting rooms and a bowling alley.  The first floor contained six classrooms.  The entire second floor was known as St. Peter's Hall an auditorium with a large stage.  The High School was added on the north side of the building in 1931.   Because it was the largest assembly hall in the area for many years, St. Peter's Hall was the site of many historic events in Jefferson City and Missouri.  One of these caused St. Peter School to serve as the Ninth Missouri State Capitol.

        For many years, Jefferson City struggled to remain the State Capital as other Central Missouri towns vied to have the Seat of Government moved to their communities.  In February 1911, this controversy came to a head when the State Capitol Building was struck by lightning and burned.

        The pastor of St. Peter Parish, Fr. Joseph Selinger, and the Parish Committee quickly offered use of the school to the Legislature at no charge.  The offer was accepted, and St. Peter school became the "Ninth Capitol of Missouri."  The reminder of the 46th General Assembly, the House of Representatives met in session in St. Peter's Hall on the second floor of the school building and used classrooms for committee meetings.  During this time, school classes were held in private homes. The Senate met in session in the Supreme Court Building.  And so it happened that in 1811, William Jennings Bryan, noted American orator and political leader, addressed the Joint Legislative Assembly in St. Peter's Hall.

    A short time later, the Missouri State Legislature voted to keep the Seat of Government in Jefferson City, probably in large part because of the community's rapid response to the crisis and their generosity and concern.  A temporary State Capitol was hastily built on the Capitol grounds for use by the next Legislative Session.  Thus ended the long controversy over whether Jefferson City would remain the Capital of Missouri.  The temporary structure was razed after the new Capitol Building was completed and occupied in 1924.

        St. Peter began a two-year Commercial High School in 1917, and in 1931, St. Peter High School opened with a four-year program in a new addition to the school.  Accreditation was through the University of Missouri.  Shortly thereafter the Christian Brothers arrived.  The high school served until the founding of Helias Interparish High School in 1955.

        After the Selinger Centre was constructed in 1937, the assembly hall on the second floor of the school that had been called St. Peter's Hall was converted into a large library and two classrooms, and in more recent year a computer lab was added.

        The post WWII population explosion caused extreme crowding in the school, and Catholic parishes in the area combined their efforts and resources into the construction of a new high school.  When Helias Interparish High School was completed in 1956, St. Peter High School closed.  This relieved the overcrowding of the elementary classes, and a kindergarten was added in the 1950's.

        Msgr. Vogelweid believed that every student who wanted it, should be able to receive a Catholic education, no matter what his or her learning ability  To that end, a special education school was founded by Bishop Marling, Msgr. Vogelweid, the School Sisters of Notre Dame and dedicated parents, who wanted to give their children with special needs a Catholic education.  Thus in September, 1964, the Vogelweid Learning Center began.  The building housing it had been contructed during the pastorate of Msgr. Vogelweid in the 1950's and was named in his honor in 1983.

        In 2005, a large addition to the school was begun, including several classrooms, a cafeteria, multipurpose facility/gymnasium, elevator, band room, art room and restrooms.  A majority of the bottom floor of the new building became the new home of the Vogelweid Learning Center.  The new addition was occupied in January of 2007.

        In the fall of 2010 a Preschool was opened in the Vogelweid building.  It continues to grow, currently having three classrooms with students from the ages of 3-5.  

        This venerable old school was begun, maintained and prospered because of generous believers with deep faith and commitment to parochial education for children of the Jefferson City area.