Demolition begins on former St. Joes' school

Thursday, March 6, 2008
Workers from Kellen Excavating remove wood and metal from inside the 1905 St. Joseph School in Le Mars. Gutting the building is just the first step in demolition of the former school to make way for a new St. Joseph Church building.

A 1905 Catholic school building is making way for a new church.

Workers from Kellen Excavating began gutting the former school building just north of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Le Mars. The building will eventually be torn down to make way for a new $8 million worship center that will replace that 120-year-old church.

Gutting is the first step in the demolition process.

"We have salvaged a lot of the wood and the tin ceilings, and we're recycling the metal," said Mark Schlesser of Gehlen Catholic Schools, who was on site at the demolition on Wednesday.

Gehlen last used the building in May 1997 and currently owns it.

They also plan to salvage the brick, Schlesser said, and some may be sold to locals as part of a fundraiser.

After the building is gutted, he added, another contractor will come in late March or April to remove the asbestos shingles.

"After that we can tear it down," Schlesser said.

They plan to wait until school is out for the year before they begin the final demolition.

"We want the parking lot to be cleared of cars before we start," Schlesser explained.

The plan for building a new 28,000 square foot church stretches into the four- or five-year plan. St. Joseph Parish is planning to replace their church, the oldest in the county, after a long battle with the building's soft brick and the need for building renovations.

The new facility will include a social hall and parish offices.

Along with the old St. Joseph School the parish's garage and rectory will also be demolished to make way for the new church. Work to tear down the old St. Joseph Catholic School should be completed by December 2008.

This January, Reverend Kevin Richter of St. Joseph Parish, announced that more than half of the $8 million needed to build the new church has already been pledged.

The Diocese of Sioux City requires that 50 percent of the cash be on hand for construction to begin, Richter noted that St. Joseph's Finance Council wants to have 70-75 percent of the cash on hand, roughly $6 million.

St. Joseph Parish has a strong history in the county. The first church building was completed in 1875 at a cost of $1,000. By 1884, the parish started to outgrow that building and started a new brick building -- the current church -- at a cost of $35,000. out for the year before they begin the final demolition.

"We want the parking lot to be cleared of cars before we start," Schlesser explained.

The plan for building a new 28,000 square foot church stretches into the four- or five-year plan. St. Joseph Parish is planning to replace their church, the oldest in the county, after a long battle with the building's soft brick and the need for building renovations.

The new facility will include a social hall and parish offices.

Along with the old St. Joseph School the parish's garage and rectory will also be demolished to make way for the new church. Work to tear down the old St. Joseph Catholic School should be completed by December 2008.

This January, Reverend Kevin Richter of St. Joseph Parish, announced that more than half of the $8 million needed to build the new church has already been pledged.

The Diocese of Sioux City requires that 50 percent of the cash be on hand for construction to begin, Richter noted that St. Joseph's Finance Council wants to have 70-75 percent of the cash on hand, roughly $6 million.

St. Joseph Parish has a strong history in the county. The first church building was completed in 1875 at a cost of $1,000. By 1884, the parish started to outgrow that building and started a new brick building -- the current church -- at a cost of $35,000.

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