PROJECT RESTORE: All Saints Church, Stuart Iowa
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The Des Moines Register
July 16, 1999
Page 1M


Register Staff Writer

Leaders of the All Saints Catholic parish in Stuart have recommended that the Byzantine-style church, gutted by an arsonist's fire in 1995, be sold to a group that wants to rebuild it.

The prospective buyers - members of a group called Project Restore - hope to use the building as a community center and an institute for tolerance.

"Project Restore believes that through education, people can learn to appreciate the diversity of the global family," said Richard Doherty, president of Project Restore.

The Rev. Dan Clarke will take the recommendation to the parish corporation, which will make a decision next week.

An arsonist set the All Saints church ablaze in August 1995 by splashing five cans of gasoline into the church and lighting a match. The arsonist, Charles Willard, said in court that he set the fire to dispel "the myth of Christ."

For the last four years, parishioners and residents of Stuart have argued over whether to demolish the charred remains or rebuild the old church, which has been replaced by the parish.

"Now the healing can start to begin because this has meant so much to so many people," Doherty said.

Project Restore, a nonprofit group made up mostly of current and former All Saints parishioners, has proposed to rebuild the stone church and turn it into a meeting place.

The new owner of the building must comply with the city's "Dangerous Building Notice," which requires demolition of the structure by Aug. 30, or timely plans for its restoration.

Project Restore was one of three bidders for the former church. The amount of money bid by the group wasn't disclosed, but Clarke said it was less than $8,500.

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