The story of the acquisition of the Ravenna collection by Saint Louis University begins with a friendship that developed nearly fifty years ago between Father Maurice McNamee, S. J., a member of the English and art history faculties at Saint Louis University, and Paul and Arno Heuduck, father and son, and owners of the Ravenna Mosaic Company of St. Louis. Although Father McNamee's formal academic training was in literature, he had a life-long interest in art and architecture. In fact, the pilot art program he developed at Saint Louis University eventually became the formal art department for the University. Father McNamee would often take his classes to visit the Ravenna Mosaic studio on Grand Avenue and Emil Frei's art glass studio on Meramec Street, both in south St. Louis.
In 1975, three years after Paul Heuduck passed away, Arno Heuduck left St. Louis and moved to Fredricktown, Missouri, with the intention of retiring from the mosaic business. The project that had brought Paul Heuduck to St. Louis in the first place and that had resulted in the creation of the Ravenna Mosaic Company was the mosaic work at the St. Louis (New) Cathedral. The Cathedral mosaics had sustained the Ravenna Company financially for more than fifty years, but the work remained unfinished and it did not appear that the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis had the resources to complete the project. But the Archdiocese suddenly made a commitment to finish the mosaic project, so Arno built a new studio next to his home in Fredricktown, hired local artists to assist him, and set to work to complete the Cathedral mosaics. Father McNamee worked very closely with Arno during this last phase of the Cathedral project.
Arno passed away in 1988, approximately three months after the last mosaic panel had been installed at the St. Louis Cathedral. Father McNamee remained in touch with Del Heuduck, Arno's widow, and learned of her plans to close down the family's mosaic business. Due primarily to Father McNamee's long friendship with the Heuduck family, Del Heuduck decided in May, 1992, to donate more than thirty records center boxes of Ravenna's business records and three mosaic panels to the Saint Louis University Archives in Pius XII Memorial Library.