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|People of all faiths were horrified by the events in August, 1995 when a hate-filled arsonist set the beautiful structure afire to "take the heart and soul out of a small Catholic community" and "to celebrate his 60th birthday," seeking his fifteen minutes of infamy...
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All Saints Catholic Church was constructed in 1908 in the small community of Stuart, Iowa. In what was truly a community effort, Catholics and non-Catholics alike worked together on the monumental project. Two years later in July of 1910, a special ceremony was held to dedicate the church. The walls of the church were consecrated to God. Ironically, it is the walls that still remain.
All Saints is one of a very few Byzantine-style churches in the midwest. The stones are hand-carved limestone--you won't see stones like these in contemporary structures.
In 1995, a lone arsonist, consumed by hate for the Catholic faith, set fire to the historic building, nearly destroying it. In the months that followed, the parish council elected to build a new structure outside the city.
The rare Byzantine structure is one of very few found in the Midwest. Designed by Boston architects Maginniss and Walsh, the church was loosely modeled after St. Marks in Venice, Italy. The magnificent interior was created in the Italian Baroque tradition. Four hand-painted frescoes adorned the arched ceilings. The altars were of Italian marble and the windows were ornate stained glass, created in the renowned Meyer Studios in Munich, Germany. Hand carved limestone blocks formed the walls. The copper dome reached 90 feet into the air, a beacon calling travelers off Interstate 80 for years. The church served as a gathering place as well as a tourist attraction for the small rural community. Voted "Most Beautiful Church in Iowa" by Des Moines Register readers, it truly was an exquisite place for worship.
Architects and architectural engineers who surveyed the structure after the fire agree that the walls of the structure remain sound and that the interior can be restored. Project Restore is dedicated to making that dream a reality.
The Project Restore Foundation was formed in 1996 by local residents wishing to see the 90-year-old structure restored. The group intends to renovate the structure for use as a cultural center and as an education facility with kiosks highlighting information on the world's major religions. Every day throughout the world, people are persecuted not just for their ethnicity but also for their religious beliefs. Project Restore intends to establish a state-wide center to teach tolerance and understanding. Project Restore believes that through education, people can learn to appreciate the diversity of the global family. By restoring this structure, Project Restore hopes to save a piece of the cultural history of Stuart, and also to promote understanding through the teaching of tolerance.
How can I help?
To join the Project Restore Foundation in the restoration efforts of the Historic All Saints building and in supporting cultural understanding, please send your contribution to the address below.
The "Project Restore Fund"
c/o First State Bank
215 North Division St.
Stuart, Iowa 50250 USA
Any assistance is appreciated including time, expertise, prayers and financial help. Contributions are tax deductible.