Endangered: St. Mary’s School, Waterloo

Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered 2018:  St. Mary’s School, Waterloo (Black Hawk County)

Endangered: Endangered: St. Mary’s School, Waterloo, front facade

In 1922 St. Mary Catholic Church and School opened on the east side of Waterloo where many immigrants had settled. Many children of immigrant families would be educated at St. Mary’s including the five Sullivan brothers who attended the school before losing their lives together on the USS Juneau in 1942. A convent built to the west of the school and church was converted into senior living units (St. Mary’s Villa) in 1987 allowing students to interact and learn from community elders. In 2002 and 2003 the Catholic schools and parishes in Waterloo and Evansdale consolidated. St. Mary’s parish closed but the school remained opened as the Queen of Peace School until 2006 when it and the senior living center both closed.

The school, rectory, and former convent building were sold to a private owner and for ten years have sat empty with no upkeep. In addition, water was allowed to collect in the basements creating an environment for black mold. Now there are many in the community calling for the buildings to be bulldozed and the property to be developed.

At present, because the site has been neglected and taxes have gone unpaid, the City of Waterloo is looking into taking possession of the buildings. The City’s Engineering Department is urging that the rectory be torn down immediately and there is concern the other buildings would follow.

St. Mary’s School addition, Waterloo

St. Mary’s School convent, Waterloo

St. Mary’s School rectory, Waterloo

Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered Property program was started in 1995 and implemented to educate Iowans about the special buildings and historic sites that are slowly and gradually slipping away from us.  In the past 20 years, Preservation Iowa has designated over 140 archaeological sites, churches, landscapes and a variety of other buildings.

The full list of Preservation Iowa’s 2018 Most Endangered Properties includes: