Historic Dubuque parish being transformed into community center - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Historic Dubuque parish being transformed into community center

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Renovations are taking place at St. Mary's Parish, a landmark with strong ties to Dubuquers. 

"I grew up downtown on 9th and White, and St. Mary's was my parish, I was baptized and confirmed here. I was also married here 48 year ago this month," said Budde.

The more than 150-year old church closed several years ago and it was at risk of being torn down, but then a group of locals decided it has to be saved. Not only is this about saving Dubuque's rich history. Those involved say it's also about revitalizing a part of the community that for so long had been neglected.

It's now being transformed into a center for the community called Steeple Square. "This area here is gonna be converted into a vibrant community center, that will be for the community to use for various activities," said Sister Helen Huewe who's a board member.

The campus will also include a childcare center at the rectory, and it's former school is being converted into an affordable apartment building that will be used to house homeless women and children from the Maria House shelter.

Many here, excited to learn of these future plans. "I am delighted to hear of the St, Mary's or now Steeple Square...I think it'll be a tremendous benefit to the community," said Budde.

There are also plans to renovate the parish, but the inside will still look the way it does now. The apartment building should be complete sometime during 2017. The whole project is scheduled to be done in 2019. 

The cost to transform the historic church is 12-million dollars. The non-profit organization, Friends of St. Mary's still needs about 5-million more. 

For more information, visit: http://www.steeplesquare.com/

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