Posted by mw on September 23rd, 2010 10:12 pm
For the Clinton County Historical Society, it has been a long road for the collection of historic Catholic churches in Clinton. St. Ireneaus, the last of five Catholic churches to find its fate after parishes merged to form Prince of Peach Parish in 1990, was recently donated to the Clinton County Historical Society in an effort to save the last piece of this important religious architecture in the community. St. Ireneaus, a 146 year old structure, was nearly demolished with the organization intervened. The historical society has diligently with a giant step forward being made this last week with the church being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The group now envisions the building to be used as a community center with historical displays, concerts and plays. The historic Catholic churches of Clinton have been listed on Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered Properties List, both individually and as a grouping, in 1998, 2002 and 2004.
While St. Ireneaus begins its new life, another Catholic church, nearly 225 miles to the west, begins its fight for life. As with the fate for many rural congregations, the Sioux City Catholic Dioceses closed the St. Joseph’s church in Duncombe, Iowa, nearly two years ago due to lack of priest. Now with looming costs, the diocese is planning to demolish the church along with the adjacent rectory and the church hall. A small group of local citizens has now join together to save the building. As quoted in the local paper, “This beautiful structure, which is no longer used as a church, is much more than “just a building” – it is an irreplaceable landmark in Duncombe. This building rests innocently with as strong of foundation today as the day it was built. Who could possibly knock down a building in such excellent condition?” The community, lead by the mayor, are formulating possible adaptive uses for the structure to fit with the community’s needs like a library, community center or gathering space.
For more information about St. Josephs in Duncombe watch a short clip from WHO-TV out of Des Moines.
For more information about St. Ireneaus visit www.catholicmessenger.org and look for an upcoming article in The Iowa Preservationist.