The historic steeple of the former St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Davenport, is going to be rebuilt, thanks in part to a $46,354 grant announced by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
The state grant awarded to One Eighty, the nonprofit Christian organization that now owns the former St. Joseph campus at 6th and Marquette streets, was one of 18 totaling $212,891 directed to Quad-City region organizations.
In addition to monies awarded for specific projects, such as the church steeple, the cultural affairs department also gave $20,000 in operating support each to the Putnam Museum, Figge Art Museum and the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra Association. Grants of $15,000 were given to Ballet Quad-Cities, $10,000 to the Muscatine Art Center and $5,000 for the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra.
Here is a closer look at the grants for specific projects:
• Former St. Joseph steeple. One Eighty plans to keep the bell tower functional and honor its history, Barry Donald, finance director, said. A recent bid pegged the work at $242,000, including tuck-pointing of brick and painting on the exterior and rebuilding the five different flights of stairs on the interior, Donald said.
"The further you go up, the more steep of an angle," Donald said of the stairs. "I've been up there once, and I won't go again" until they are repaired, he said.
One Eighty has two other funding opportunities coming up this fall and has "very generous supporters," Donald said. "Once they see the budget, donations will start coming in." Donald hopes work can begin by the end of September.
That news likely will be welcome to the many people who have ties to the former 1800s church, because as soon as One Eighty began moving into the property that includes a school, convent and rectory in 2016, people began stopping by, wondering what was going to happen to the buildings, executive director Rusty Boruff, has said.
One Eighty is an organization dedicated to turning people's lives around, 180 degrees. Its programs include food pantries, housing and jobs through its businesses.
• Nomination of the Fair Oaks Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places, $17,245, to the city of Muscatine.
Fair Oaks is a residential neighborhood on the city's east side, located east of Park Avenue, north of Washington Street, immediately west of Weed Park and south of Muscatine Community College.
The area grew up around the landmark Gothic Revival brick house built by Dr. James Weed, an early settler, during 1852-54 on his farm. In 1899, Weed donated 63 acres of woods on the farm to the city to become Weed Park, and he and his wife platted subdivisions for homes on other parts.
This was during a time of considerable growth for Muscatine because of the emerging pearl button industry, and the homes were built on gently curved streets facing the park. More than half of the homes were built by 1930, with others continuing through the decades until the last ranch-style home was completed in 1964, according to a historical survey.
The grant will help pay for a historian to draft a nomination application to add the district to the register. In addition to the prestige that comes with living in a nationally recognized historic district, property owners may become eligible for funding opportunities to fix up their homes.
• Hiring and training of first-person interpreters to talk to Muscatine County middle school students about Muscatine residents' role in the American Civil War, $4,270 to the Muscatine Art Center.
Two men and two women will be trained to play the parts of soldier Daniel Parvin and his wife. Parvin wrote letters to his family between 1861 and 1864 when he was seriously wounded in the siege of Atlanta, and 117 of them have been donated to the art center by a family member.
They reflect on camp life, the way illness was treated, homesickness, the horrors of battle, Parvin's opinions of people in leadership roles and specific battles, including those of Corinth and Vicksburg in Mississippi, according to Melanie Alexander, art center director.
"It's a chance for us to do something in the schools," she said of the interpreter program. "We can present local history that hits on the experiences of real people."
If the program is successful, "we will find a way to continue it," she said.
• Nichols Commercial Historic District National Register of Historic Places Project, $5,500 to the Muscatine County Historic Preservation Commission.
The commission wants to add the city's dozen or so historic buildings from around the turn of the 20th century to the national register, putting property owners in a better position to fund the renovation of their buildings through tax credit opportunities or grants.
The grant will help pay for a historian to draft a nomination application to add the district to the register.
Statewide, the cultural affairs department gave more than $2 million to 200 projects through the Iowa Arts Council and the State Historical Society of Iowa.
The money comes from the Iowa Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund.