All Saints Catholic Church (Stuart, Iowa)

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It was a hot August afternoon in 1995 when a lone arsonist set fire to All Saints Church in Stuart, Iowa. In a matter of hours the rare Byzantine-style church, a local landmark, was engulfed in flames. Declaring rage for the Catholic Church, the arsonist claimed that his destructive act aimed to "take the heart and soul out of a small Catholic community." Stuart's heart and soul was anything but weakened. A decade and a half later, Project Restore — the nonprofit group formed to salvage and reinstate the structure — is well on its way to reaching its goal of restoring Historic All Saints and creating a cultural center and a center for religious tolerance.
All Saints Catholic Church
Historic All Saints Catholic Church Stuart Iowa.jpg
All Saints Catholic Church (Stuart, Iowa) is located in Iowa
All Saints Catholic Church (Stuart, Iowa)
Location 320 N. Fremont, Stuart, Iowa
Coordinates 41°30′25″N 94°19′2″W / 41.50694°N 94.31722°W / 41.50694; -94.31722Coordinates: 41°30′25″N 94°19′2″W / 41.50694°N 94.31722°W / 41.50694; -94.31722
Built 1908-1910
Architect Maginnis and Walsh
Architectural style Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 00001478[1]
Added to NRHP December 7, 2000

All Saints Catholic Church is a former parish church building in the Diocese of Des Moines. The building is located in Stuart, Iowa, United States, at 320 N. Fremont. The parish used the building as its church until a devastating fire severely damaged the structure. The building has been rebuilt and it serves as a cultural center called the Historic All Saints/Saints Center for Culture and the Arts. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a rare example of Neo-Byzantine architecture in the state of Iowa.[2]

History[edit]

Development[edit]

The Catholic Church in Stuart traces its beginnings to August 1871 when a Father Moniahan from Des Moines came to town for the first time to celebrate Mass. He would come at irregular intervals and Mass was celebrated in school rooms, Shield’s Hall, and in private homes. At this time the whole state of Iowa was part of the Diocese of Dubuque.

The first church was built in 1874 under the direction of the Rev. Edward Gaul. It was dedicated by the Very Rev. J.F. Brazil from St. Ambrose in Des Moines on the Feast of All Saints, November 1, 1877. The Rev. James Foley was pastor at the time and he built two additions onto the church as well as the rectory during his 24 years at All Saints. During that time he was also responsible for parishes in Casey, Adair, Guthrie Center and Greenfield.[3] The parish became a part of the Diocese of Davenport when it was established in 1881.

Historic Church[edit]

On October 12, 1902 the Rev. M.S. McNamara became pastor. It was during his pastorate that plans for a new church were developed and executed. Maginnis and Walsh were responsible for designing the church. The cornerstone was laid in September 1908 and it was completed in 1910. It was built of blue Bedford limestone in a combination of Byzantine Revival and Romanesque Revival styles. The building measures 70 feet (21 m) wide, 120 feet (37 m) long and 110 feet (34 m) high. It has a seating capacity of 600.[4] The interior is under an 90-foot (27 m) high dome that contains 16 windows. The dome was covered in copper. The church was decorated with Italian marble, rare woods, hand painted frescos, gold gilding, and statuary.[5] The windows were from the Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich, Germany. The church was built for $65,000.[4]

Bishop James Davis of Davenport dedicated the church at a Pontifical High Mass.[6] Bishop James J. Keane of Cheyenne, Wyoming preached the sermon. The following year the parish became part of the Diocese of Des Moines when it was established in 1911 on the same day that Bishop Keane was named Archbishop of Dubuque.

Destructive Fire and the Aftermath[edit]

On August 22, 1995 Charles Willard of Des Moines drove to Stuart and poured gasoline in various places in the church and set it on fire. Fire departments from 20 area communities in a 50-mile (80 km) radius of Stuart fought the fire. While the exterior walls remained standing the rest of the building lay in ruins. A small chapel in the back suffered minor damage. Willard had mailed letters to two bishops and a Des Moines television station before he set the fire taking responsibility based on his hatred of the Catholic Church. He even held a news conference before his arrest. He was convicted of arson and a hate crime.[5]

The parish, under the leadership of the Rev. Dan Clarke, and the diocese decided that to rebuild the church would be too expensive. Instead they decided to build a new facility on 95 acres (380,000 m2) of land purchased from the Bill and Marlene Wilson family for $475,000. The new church, designed by the Renaissance Design Group of Omaha, has seating for 400 people and a parking lot for 175 cars. The cost for the new church was $2.5 million.[7] Bishop Joseph Charron, C.Pp.S. laid the cornerstone for the new church on August 31, 1997.

In September 1997 the damaged historic church building and property were sold to a group named the Project Restore Foundation for $7,200. They had hoped to rehabilitate the building in three years for a community cultural center [8] at an estimated cost of around $3.5 million.[9] The architects for the restoration project were Kirk Blunck and Jeff Wagner of HLKB in Des Moines and construction was done by Koester in Grimes.[10] Plans called for the exterior of the old church to look similar to the way it looked before the fire, The interior would have a modern appearance with exposed stone and brick on the walls. The dome would be rebuilt with the original stone, which had been numbered and saved. The original copper on the dome melted so it was replaced with new copper sheeting.[2]

Several grants helped with the restoration effort. In 2000 the State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees approved a grant for $60,000 towards the project.[11] In 2007 Project Restore received a $545,000 grant from Vision Iowa, a state program that provides money for major tourism attractions.[2] That same year 63% of the citizens of Stuart voted to accept a $1.7 million bond referendum to rebuild the church.[12] Another $232,000 (as of 2007) in private donations was also raised,[2]

A small chapel on the west side of the church and the former sacristy was the first part of the project that was finished in 2002-2003.[13] A group of Serbian Orthodox Christians started using the chapel for a monthly liturgy in 2005.[9] The new dome was lifted into place in October 2008.[13] Work on the interior continued after that and was completed in 2010.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d Jacobs, Jennifer. "Des Moines Register (October 11, 2007)— Arson-gutted church gets Vision Iowa money". www.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  3. ^ "History of the Catholic Church in Stuart". www.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  4. ^ a b "Stuart Herald (1910)—All Saints Seats 600". www.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  5. ^ a b Andrews, Matt. "Religious Hatred: The Parishioners of a mainly-white church in Stuart, Iowa were victims of a hate crime, too". http://www.midtod.com. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  6. ^ "Stuart Herald (1910)— Catholic Church Dedicated". www.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  7. ^ "Catholic Mirror (1997)— Stuart Parish Unveils Plans for New Church Building". www.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  8. ^ "Guthrie Center Times (September 1, 1999 )— All Saints Issue Settled". www.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  9. ^ a b Boone, Dana. "Des Moines Register (February 20, 2005)—Historic Catholic church in Stuart that Survived fiery attack is hosting Serbian Orthodox services". www.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  10. ^ Queck-Matzie, Terri. "The Iowan (March–April, 2009)— Restoring Faith". ww.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  11. ^ "Guthrie Center Times (November 22, 2000)— Project Restore gets Matching Grant". ww.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  12. ^ "KCCI-TV 8 News (November 7, 2007)— Voters Approve Saving All Saints Church Building". ww.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  13. ^ a b Offenburger, Chuck. "Family Living (November 2008)— Stuart's Bold New Beacon". ww.restoreallsaints.org. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 

External links[edit]