Members of the All Saints Catholic parish dedicated their new church in Stuart last month. Now they're ready to part with the old one.
Their historic Byzantine-style church, gutted by an arsonist's fire in 1995, is being sold to the highest bidder.
The Diocese of Des Moines announced the sale Wednesday. Sealed bids will be accepted until July 15.
Whether the sale will lead to the restoration of the landmark building remains unclear.
But one group that plans to bid on the property is Project Restore, which has proposed rebuilding what's left of the stone church and turning it into a community meeting place.
"I'm glad to see them finally taking some action after all these years," said Richard Doherty, president of the group. "I'm just sorry for the people in this community that it didn't happen a long time ago."
Project Restore, a nonprofit group made up mostly of current and former All Saints parishioners, takes credit for saving the church from being demolished earlier.
Doherty said he hadn't heard of anyone interested in restoring the church of buying the property for another use. A school and a wood-frame church adjacent to the old All Saints church are not part of the sale.
Already, Doherty said, Project Restore has $65,000 in contributions and pledges. If the group is awarded the church, members could apply for grants and possibly start a fund raising campaign, he said.
According to the Diocese of Des Moines, the parish reserves the right to reject all bids.
Potential buyers also must comply with the city of Stuart's " Dangerous Building Notice," which requires either demolition of the building by Aug. 30 or timely plans for its restoration.
Doherty expects his group could work with the city.
"I think the city really wants us to succeed in this, because it's a benefit to the city," he said.