St. Paul’s College
1883-to present (high school)
Travel and E-Travel
Concordia is located on Interstate 70, so I have passed by many times traveling between Columbia and Kansas City. As a high school teacher in 1967, I helped a graduate apply to St. Paul’s. The Gem, the 1923 St. Paul College yearbook, is at Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence. When I stopped by the college in August 2013, St. Paul’s staff corrected some of my errors and helped me with photo ops.
St. Paul’s was created by the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church. The church needed more ministers, and Western Missouri seemed to be fertile ground for a seminary. Led by Reverend F. J. Biltz, church congregations of Concordia and the immediate region sponsored the creation of a college in 1883. Professor Andrew Baepler began classes in his office for six students on January 3, 1884. As the school grew, more teachers and more facilities were added. In the year 1905, St. Paul’s was elevated to a college with the addition of two classes. In 1919 the school was closed for a time because of an outbreak of typhoid, which claimed three students. It was later closed again because of influenza.
Until World War I instruction at St. Paul’s was in German; the shift to English language came as a result of anti-German sentiment. Women students were admitted for the first time in 1954, as the church saw the need for trained women in leadership roles. In the 1960’s the curriculum shifted from a ministerial focus to a liberal arts focus with a Christian emphasis. At that time programs for teacher education and music were added. The college was accredited by North Central in 1965, but because of declining enrollment, it was dropped in 1986.
The 1923 Gem shows a student body of 116. The Prima and Secunda classes combined totaled 30 students. The Tertia, Quarta, Quinta and Sexta classes combined for 77 students. Nine additional students were deemed not ready for Sexta, so constituted a Septima class. The Websterian Literary Society was the first at the school. Students met weekly for a program of “essays, speeches, debates, declamations, extempore speeches and music.” St. Paul’s had a school orchestra, a chorus and various ensembles. Musical groups performed the cantata City of God in 1922-23. St. Paul’s was also very proud of a nine-member comedy-musical group called We-Lack-Talent, which performed at school functions.
Bricks and Mortar
The first building at St. Paul’s was a two-story brick structure completed in 1884. As enrollment increased, additions were made to the building. It is called “Administration Building” in the 1923 Gem and later was named Founder’s Hall. It burned in 1964. In 1924 the college added a much anticipated gymnasium.
A new Dormitory named Biltz Hall was also added. It now houses the St. Paul Institute for Education.
In 1949 a “new” administration building called Baepler Hall was built. It is now the central building of the campus quad.
Baepler Hall in 2013
Colors: True Blue and White (colors come from the
loyalty of St. Paul’s students during World War I
Team name: Saints
The main sport of St. Paul’s in 1922 was baseball. The school team played a schedule of town teams, high schools, Legion teams and colleges (Wentworth Military and Central College) and alumni. The 1922 team were undefeated with two draws.
Even without a gym, St. Paul’s played basketball against the same type of competition as baseball and enjoyed some success. The gymnasium came in 1924. This allowed St. Paul’s to play against other two-year schools in Western Missouri and participate in a Lutheran basketball tournament against teams from Kansas and Nebraska.
The 1923 Gem notes that football games against outside teams were forbidden by the faculty. Still football was played at St. Paul’s, as students tried to arrange games against the alumni. When this failed, they played an inter-form game with Tertia-Quinta defeating Quarta 18-13. The College Football Data Warehouse shows that St. Paul’s played intercollegiate games in 1926 and 1927, losing to Kemper and to Rockhurst.
1923 St. Paul's Baseball team (Gem, Courtesy of Mid-Continent Public Library)