Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church (Harper, Iowa)
Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church
|Location:||242nd Street, Southeast of Harper, Iowa|
|Architect:||Ferdinand S. Borgolte|
|Architectural style:||Gothic Revival|
|NRHP Reference#:||86002277 |
|Added to NRHP:||August 6, 1986|
Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church is a former parish of the Diocese of Davenport. The church is located in rural Harper, Iowa, United States, on 242nd St in Clear Creek Township, Keokuk County. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The parish was known in the Davenport Diocese as Saints Peter and Paul, Clear Creek.
Catholics in Clear Creek Township purchased 20 acres (8.1 ha) of land in 1857 for a Catholic church and cemetery. The parish was served by itinerant priests who would visit occasionally. The first Mass was celebrated in the log structure on the property in 1859, and the parish was organized in 1860. The parish started its first church building built of brick in 1863, which was dedicated to the apostles Peter and Paul. The old log church was used for a school until 1875 when the first school building was erected. A rectory was built in 1893-4 for a resident priest.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi from Milwaukee taught in the parish school from 1895-1902. During this time plans for the current church structure were made. Ferdinand S. Borgolte from Rock Island, Illinois was chosen as the architect, and Harry Schroeder of Washington, Iowa was the contractor. The cornerstone was laid on June 8, 1898 by Bishop Henry Cosgrove of Davenport. The building is Victorian Gothic in style and constructed in red brick. There is a central entrance tower, which rises 150 feet (45.7 m), and was the tallest structure in Keokuk County when it was built. The exterior features decorative brickwork. The building contains period stained glass windows and has wood carved altars and pews. The stained glass windows were donated by parish families and they portray various saints. Donor’s names are inscribed below. The altars are hand carved walnut with gold leaf trim. The work is attributted to Nickolas Juhl of Davenport. The church building was dedicated on April 18, 1899, and was built for about $10,000.
In 1902 the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood taught in the school for a few months before lay teachers took over. The following year the School Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee came to teach in the school. A new school building with living quarters for the sisters was built in 1906. A new rectory was built in 1911. It was destroyed by a fire in 1930 when the present structure was built.
Two of the three bells were placed in the tower in 1907. The larger of the two bells weighs 2060 pounds and cost $566. The smaller bell weighs 1100 pounds and cost $290.
In 1963 a parish hall was created in the basement of the church. The parish school joined the Keota-Harper Catholic School System in 1977. In 1979 the parish lost its resident pastor, and in 1983 the school building was torn down.
The parish was officially dissolved on July 1, 1992 when it joined St. Mary's parish in Keota and St. Elizabeth's in Harper to form Holy Trinity parish. The last regularly scheduled Mass in the church was celebrated on June 25, 2006 by the Rev. Marty Goetz. On June 13, 2009 Bishop Martin Amos approved the sale of the church building to the Clear Creek Heritage Association.
- Page, W.C. (1985). National Register of Historic Places Nomination for the Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, Clear Creek Township, Iowa.
- Peiffer, Rev. N.J. (1935). History of Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church of Clear Creek Township, Keokuk County, Iowa.
- Wiebler, Rev. W.F. (1958). Clear Creek: A Torrent of Grace; A Centennial Historical Sketch of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Clear Creek, Iowa.