REMSEN, Iowa — After a painstaking restoration, a 113-year-old church in Remsen has been given a historical building award by the State Historical Society of Iowa.

St. Mary’s Church, part of the Diocese of Sioux City, was the recipient of the 2016 Margaret Keyes Award, recognizing “outstanding” preservation projects.

The brick church, built in 1904, was sliding into disrepair before restoration started in 2010. Its roof was leaking, its bricks needed new mortar, some of its stone trim was crumbling, and its copper roof decorations were in poor condition.

Norine Harvey, development director for St. Mary’s schools and parish, said the Neo-Gothic structure was in sore need of rehabilitation.

“It’s been apparent for quite a few years, with the leaky roof, water leaking into the vestibule of the church,” Harvey told the Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/2tpKWA9 ). “It really, really needed help.”

So the church raised funds and applied for tax credits, and eventually the building got a brand-new slate roof, new copper roof ornaments and gutters, replacement stones and re-pointed masonry. In total, the restoration cost over $1 million.

The replacement elements were kept fairly close to the originals, down to the use of real slate and copper on the roof. Because of the apparent care taken in repairing the building, Harvey was contacted by the State Historic Preservation Office, which invited the church to apply for the Margaret Keyes Award, which they were given last month.

The award does not include a cash prize, though the church was able to obtain a different financial boost from the state.

“Our tax credit was our ‘cash prize,'” Harvey said, laughing.


Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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