The Abandoned St. Paul's Abbey was founded in 1924 by a group of monks that included veteran missionaries from East Africa as well as younger ones from Germany. They were under the leadership of Fr. Michael Heinlein, OSB, from the Archabbey of St. Ottilien in Germany. The major purpose of this foundation was to recruit and train American monks to help carry out the monastic and missionary traditions of the Congregation of St. Ottilien. From the very beginning the foundation was placed under the patronage of Theresa of the Child Jesus and known as Little Flower Monastery.
The monastery grew rapidly as more monks were assigned to it from Germany. It became a simple priory in 1928 & a Conventual Priory in 1936. Fr. Michael served as superior for 17 years. In 1935 the first American monk made his profession. Local vocations increased so that in 1947 Fr. Charles Coriston was elected the first abbot & the title of the monastery was changed to St. Paul’s Abbey.
The major concern of the young foundation in the 1920’s was agriculture and the developing of a community life. In 1932 a new monastery-seminary building was completed. The minor seminary remained part of the work of the community for 35 years. Camp St. Benedict began in the 1940’s & was a major summer apostolate for over 30 years. In 1945 the community was able to send its first two missionary monks to South Africa. Since that time the monastery has been serving the missions in East and South Africa.
In 1962 a new residence was completed & the monks moved out to the new facility across the road leaving the old abbey empty. For years it sat without any real plans up until the 2000's when plans came up to convert the Abandoned St. Paul's Abbey into affordable housing however those plans fell through & the Abbey sat.
The Abandoned St. Paul's Abbey has experienced a rapid decline over the last decade. Vandals have heavily tagged the place & scrappers have looted every piece of copper & anything of value out of it. The roof is starting to leak which often spells the end for many of the places.
Zenning with Zay & I arrived here after dark & I did some poking around to see if we could get inside. After sometime, I finally found a hidden entry so we planned on getting up before sunrise to make our way in under the cover of darkness as The Abandoned St. Paul's Abbey is located on a very busy road! We were disappointed to see how damaged the place was but still enjoyed the explore regardless!
It's always great to get a head start on the day & we were able to enjoy the sunrise in here & be out of the abbey, checked out of our hotel & on the road by 9 AM! I genuinely hope that one day this place is brought back to its former glory but it seems that may never happen. I am just happy we were able to explore Abandoned St. Paul's Abbey.