Home of the
National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows
Scott Air Force Base
by Betty Moore
During the 1830's, the region was settled by German immigrants, who became known as "Latin farmers" because of their emphasis on education and the arts. Their simple brick architectural influence is still visible in the older neighborhoods such as the "Old Belleville District," "Hexenbukel" and "Oakland".
The city taken great care to preserve other structures and churches with architectural styles such as Greek Revival, French Second Empire, Queen Ann and Italianate. The Cathedral of St. Peter, located at 200 W. Harrison St., was founded in 1842 and modeled after the Gothic style of the Cathedral of Exeter, England. The Belleville National Register Historic District includes over 700 homes and buildings, including the Victorian Home-Museum and Emma Kunz Home Museum.
The Lincoln Theater, located at 103 East Main Street, opened in 1921 as a vaudeville house and later purchased by the FOX Circuit. In 1927, a theatre organ was installed to replace the orchestra.
Residents and visitors enjoy year-round activities with festivals, bicycling along the Greenway Trail, sports at the Family Sportsplex, and events at the Belle Clair Fairgrounds. Shopping malls, unique specialty shops and antique stores are conveniently located in the downtown area and adjacent neighborhoods. Numerous cafes and gourmet dining opportunities are popular locations for business lunches and family occasions.
The growing community also has a diverse economy with major banks, manufacturing, medical centers and agribusiness. Many businesses are in their third and fourth generation. The Eckert's Country Story & Farms, located at Route 15 and Greenmount Road, is family owned and operated since 1862 by six generations of Eckerts, is the largest pick-your-own orchard operation in the United States. The farm hosts numerous weekend festivals with family activities, a kids' corral and petty farm, and gardening workshops.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, founded in 1958 by Fr. Edwin J. Guild, OMI, is located on Route 15 at Route 157 in Belleville, just fifteen minutes east of St. Louis.
The 2,400 seats and grassy slopes at the Shrine's Amphitheatre can accommodate large crowds for special liturgies and events. Visitors of all faiths and denominations participate in numerous programs year round including pilgrimages, retreats, healing workshops, youth rallies, ethnic festivals and concerts.
Belleville is adjacent to Scott Air Force Base, home to the 375th Airlift Wing. The complex, which occupies almost 4,000 acres with 900 buildings, is comprised of the Air Force's Air Mobility Command, the Army's Military Traffic Management Command and the Navy's Military Sealift Command. Additional commands include the Air Force Command, Control, Communications and Computer Agency and the Air Weather Service.
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