St. Luke's Hospital officials say church demolition still on hold

Group continuing to try to raise funds to preserve building

First Christian Church, located at 840 3rd Avenue, SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday, February 23, 2012. (Nikole Hanna
First Christian Church, located at 840 3rd Avenue, SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday, February 23, 2012. (Nikole Hanna/The Gazette-KCRG)

CEDAR RAPIDS — St. Luke’s Hospital officials say they are holding off on demolishing a church for as long as possible as supporters scramble to raise funds to save the historic structure.

Daily demonstrations outside First Christian Church, 840 Third Ave. SE, have been postponed because of construction on Third Avenue, but work continues behind the scenes, said Beth Chacey DeBoom of Cedar Rapids, one of the leaders of the preservation effort.

St. Luke’s purchased the church to make way for a 40-space parking lot for the Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa medical mall, under construction at 10th Street and Second Avenue SE.

The church was dedicated in 1913 and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Celebrated architect Louis Sullivan was a consultant on the church, with windows designed by glass artist Louis Millet.

“We are holding off on demolition until the very last moment to provide every opportunity possible for any valid proposal to come forward,” hospital spokeswoman Sarah Corizzo said in an email.

Previously, the preservation group said the hospital gave the group until March 23 to come up with $90,000 in earnest money. They said St. Luke’s would sell the church and two neighboring apartments for $900,000, but that a business plan and other details are necessary for the purchase.

Members still hope to find investors and donations to save the building and re-purpose it.

How to help

Anyone interested in becoming involved in the preservation efforts can contact Beth Chacey DeBoom by email at: or phone at (319) 360-7145. The group also has a Facebook page: SaveCRHeritageThe Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street, a 501(c)3 non-profit, is serving as the fiscal agent for the First Christian Church fundraising. Donations are tax-deductible. Checks can be made payable to CV/NB Main Street with "First Christian" in the memo field and mailed to: CV/NB Main Street Office, 101 16th Ave. SW, Suite A, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.

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