17, 2007- Ten years after an arsonist's gasoline and matches
left a a fire-ravaged shell, there's new hope for the former All Saints
Catholic Church in Stuart.
At a meeting in
last week, The Vision Iowa Board approved a grant of more than half a
million dollars for the rare Byzantine-style church.
The official grant application was
the Stuart Entertainment and Economic Development Project. Total
projected cost was $2,477,567 with a grant request of $544,937. Vision
The fire-damaged and
partially-restored historic All Saints building, formerly a church and
now a meeting space, will be restored into a community cultural center
able to hold up to 500 people for concerts, theater, meetings and
weddings. It also will house the
and Peace, which seeks to promote awareness and understanding of the
world's religions in order to avoid the violent tragedy that befell the
"The Stuart project is a
wonderful story of triumph over tragedy," said Vision Iowa Board
Chairman Andy Anderson. "After a devastating fire, it would have
been easy for citizens to give up on this building. Renovations will
ensure that the former church will continue to serve the town. The dome
component will be an incredible asset to the structure."
resident Charles Willard had issues with the Catholic Church when he
decided to torch All Saints in Stuart. Engulfed by flames were a 90 foot
copper dome, ornate stained glass windows and hand crafted European
items and church accessories.
The grant is contingent upon passage
of a $1.7 million local bond referendum and the inclusion of the dome
component to the restoration of the Historic All Saints building.
The bond issue will be on the
municipal election ballot November 6.
and a Stuart native, has worked with The Project Restore Foundation
since it was established in 1996. He said private donations total
The foundation has restored a
section of the building that includes a small chapel, meeting room,
kitchen and restrooms.