Christian Brothers College
St. Louis, Missouri
1854-1916 (college), 1849- (high school)
I first knew of Christian Brothers as a large St. Louis high school, a state tournament power. So I was a bit surprised to learn that CBC had once actually been a college, one that had included Notre Dame on its football schedule. Information on the school’s history was provided by Mary E. Neighbors in her 2000 book Let Us Remember: CBC, the First 150 Years. A Commemorative History.
Christian Brothers College dates from 1849 when the Christian Brothers opened “Cathedral School” for 200 elementary boys. In 1850 the school became known as St. Joseph’s Academy. In 1854 the Brothers began to educate young men at the collegiate level. The Academy of the Christian Brothers received a Missouri charter in 1855 to offer both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
Prior to 1897, the college consisted of three departments—classical, scientific and commercial. The first two offered Latin and Greek, mathematics, natural sciences, history, English and philosophy. The Commercial Department offered bookkeeping, arithmetic, geometry, algebra, English grammar, business correspondence, commercial law and typing. After 1897, when the Brothers were forbidden to teach Latin and Greek, the emphasis shifted. Modern languages replaced Latin and Greek, and architecture and engineering classes were added. While enrollment declined for a time, teaching/learning strategies employed at CBC began to emphasize the application of concepts learned. Now classes required students to do public speaking and to translate and interpret literary classics.
The boys and young men who attended CBC enjoyed numerous extra-curricular activities. From the beginning they wrote and participated in skits at “Entertainment Day.” They participated in band, orchestra and various choral groups. They were members of three sodalities—the Knights of Mary, the Guild of Mary, and the Confraternity of St. Francis. Six literary societies provided opportunities for drama, debate and oratory.
Bricks and Mortar
The Academy of the Christian Brothers was originally located at 8th and Cerre Streets. When the school property became enclosed by commercial operations, the school purchased the “Cote Brilliante” property, and by 1882 the new campus was ready for occupancy. The hugh building, in the form of a cross, had a frontage of 370 feet. Each wing was five stories high. The central section featured a rotunda 125 feet high, one of the highest point in the city. The new school was built to house and educate a thousand students; it was surrounded by 30 acres of grounds to insure against commercial encroachment. It was the largest campus in the state and the only boarding school in Saint Louis.
Unfortunately a disastrous fire on October 5, 1916 cost ten lives, burning out the building. CBC finished the 1916-17 academic year as guests of Washington University at Smith Academy.
When CBC rebuilt on Clayton Road, the college division was first placed in abeyance and then abandoned. CBC continued (and continues to this day) as a first class high school.
Postcard view of Cote Brilliante before the 1916 fire (https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Brothers-Missouri-Original-Vintage/dp/B00P4DR024) accessed 1-30-2017
Team name: Collegians. Today’s teams are called the Cadets.
Colors: Purple and Gold
Mary E. Neighbour notes that CBC was an “athletic giant around the turn of the century.” She notes that in soccer the CBC Collegians were USA and Canadian champions in 1900-01. The school represented the United States in the 1904 Olympics held in St. Louis, finishing second to Canada.
Until football was dropped in 1904, CBC was a top team in Missouri with annual battles with Washington University, St. Louis University, and the University of Missouri. When football was reinstated in 1912, CBC compiled an 8-1 record. The 1913 team had a 6-2-1 record. The Collegians defeated Culver-Stockton, Southeast Missouri Teachers, Illinois Wesleyan, Central (MO) College, DePaul(forfeit), and Kirksville Osteopathic. The Collegians played Missouri School of Mines to a 7-7 tie and lost to powerhouses Notre Dame and Haskell Institute..
CBC continued to play an intercollegiate schedule up to the time of the fire.
1902 CBC football team (Official National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Guide <babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.319510014155349;view=2up;seq=370>)