The man whose company built much of Belleville has died.
John “Jack” Bauer died on Sept. 11 at 83 years old. He was the president and second-generation owner of Bauer Brothers Construction Co. and Bauer Brothers General Contractors Inc. in Belleville, which constructed schools, hospitals and other office buildings that still dot the city’s landscape.
Bauer Brothers Construction built many iconic building in downtown Belleville, including St. Peter’s Cathedral, Belleville City Hall, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and the Belleville News-Democrat.
The construction company also built the outdoor altar at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Althoff High School, St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, Abraham Lincoln School, the St. Clair County Jail and the first building to be constructed at Belleville Township High School. Bauer Brothers built the high school’s administration building in 1914. It still stands today as part of Lindenwood University’s Belleville campus.
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Bauer Brothers Construction built many iconic building in downtown Belleville, including St. Peter’s Cathedral, Belleville City Hall, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the outdoor altar at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Althoff High School and the administration building at Belleville Township High School.
Bauer’s daughter, Belinda Bauer, said her father was most proud of the Military Airlift Command Center and other buildings his company built at Scott Air Force Base that led to lasting friendships he made with local military personnel.
“He got to be friends with many of the colonels, so they would fly him around the country to show him other air force bases,” Bauer said. “He really enjoyed that.”
She said she has always admired the work her father’s company did for as long as she can remember.
“My favorite building was St. Elizabeth’s Hospital,” she said. “It was built in the ’50s. Architecturally, it was very iconic of the 1950s. It was huge at the time. It was a multi-million-dollar project for Belleville. I was born there, as were three of my younger siblings. I always liked that. I went to grade school at Cathedral and I always saw it there.”
She said the construction company was founded by her grandfather and his three brothers. She recalls her father working very hard and often traveling to the company’s offices in Indiana, where the company built a hospital, school and a church, among other buildings.
“He worked long hours and was frequently out of town because he traveled,” she said. “He had concrete plants throughout Southern Illinois and they also had a sister company in Evansville, Ind., so he was on the road a lot. He traveled a lot and he worked very hard and he also was very involved in his work.”
Bauer said her father was an avid outdoorsman. The family bought 40 acres of land in Millstadt in the 1970s and spent many weekends there.
“We always liked to tease him that he was an amateur lumberjack because he always kept dead trees to keep a stack of wood,” she said. “He loved having a fire going, fall through spring. That was one of his more enjoyable activities, being out in the woods.\
In his younger days, he was a big hunter and another favorite pastime of his was lifelong gardener. He always had a garden and maintained a small orchard. ... He always loved being outdoors.
“In his younger days, he was a big hunter and another favorite pastime of his was lifelong gardener. He always had a garden and maintained a small orchard. He loved canning and freezing, making jams, pickles and relishes, and he did that every year. He always loved being outdoors. He kept himself very busy his whole life.”
Bauer Brothers Construction operated for more than 75 years and was headquartered at 424 Lebanon Ave. in Belleville, which today houses an office for the Gateway Region YMCA. The business closed by the mid-1980s after Bauer retired. He lived the rest of his life in Millstadt.
Bauer and his wife, Doris, were married for 64 years. They had five children, six grandchildren and a great-grandson.
Bauer’s funeral and burial will be held Saturday. A visitation for family and friends will be held from 4-8 p.m., Friday at Renner Funeral Home in Belleville. A private family Mass and funeral will be held Saturday morning at St. Peter’s Cathedral and the burial will follow at Green Mount Catholic Cemetery in Belleville.