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Des Moines Historical Society Tour of Historic Cathedral
January 11, 2014 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
The Des Moines Historical Society will host a members-only tour of The Cathedral Church of St. Paul Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at 10 a.m. The Cathedral is located at 815 High Street and parking is available in the lot behind the church, off Pleasant Street. The public is invited to join and pay dues to the Des Moines Historical Society in order to participate. More information on the tour and membership is available at www.desmoineshistoricalsociety.org.
Built in 1885 in the Gothic Revival style of architecture, St. Paul’s remains today much as it looked when first constructed. Noted local architects Foster and Liebbe designed the church to reflect smaller English churches and, with stone of red granite and hard limestone carved by expert masons, the church stands true to its historical predecessors in England.
St. Paul’s is the sole original survivor of what was once known as Piety Hill, a central setting of seven churches built in a burgeoning Des Moines community in the late 19th century. It, along with First Methodist, Central Christian, First Baptist, Temple B’nai Jeshurun, Plymouth Congregational and Central Presbyterian made up the clustered district north of High Street between 6th and 10th streets.
“At one time, these grand churches represented nearly all of Des Moines’ religious community,” said Sarah Oltrogge, DMHS President. “The churches with their massive steeples were the symbolic fingers of Des Moines’ earliest religious organizations, situated into a cluster of the faithful banding together in the growing community of Fort Des Moines.”
St. Paul’s did not start life as a cathedral but rather as the oldest and largest of Des Moines’ Episcopal churches, having been established in 1854. It is the forerunner to St. Andrew’s, St. Luke’s, St. Mark’s and, in West Des Moines, St. Timothy’s churches. St. Paul’s was elevated to cathedral status in 1992 and named the liturgical center of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa.
Artist Vicki Ingham and retired architect John Wetherell will lead the tour. Ingham is a freelance writer and researcher with a lifelong career in publishing, including as an editor at Meredith Corporation. She holds a Master’s degree in art history from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and produced the book “Illuminated History: Stained Glass at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.” Wetherell researched St. Paul’s for its placement on the National Register of Historic Places. He has a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois and has lent his expertise in historic preservation to the restoration work on several county courthouses and historic sites in Iowa.
This event is a benefit of membership in the Des Moines Historical Society. Non-members are welcome to pay dues and become members at the event in order to participate. Call (515) 971-4364 for more information.