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Effort to preserve historic churches deserves support

Coppin Chapel, Sacred Heart are part of the fabric of Fort Dodge

Apart from their own home, perhaps no other building plays such a significant role in a person’s life than their church.

The church is the site of so many of life’s milestones – weddings, baptisms, first communions and, yes, funerals. Often these take place in monumental structures that generations of families have gathered in. Church buildings become landmarks in the community even for people who don’t attend services there.

That’s why emerging efforts to preserve two venerable houses of worship in Fort Dodge are a positive development.

The first of those efforts focuses on Coppin Chapel AME Church on First Avenue South. The structure was built in 1894 as the St. Olaf Norwegian Lutheran Church. It became an AME church in 1919. A little more than $15,000 in grants have been awarded to pay for a professional assessment of the building and a plan for its rehabilitation. Most of that money, $12,084, came from the State Historic Preservation Office. The remaining $3,000 came from the Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation.

The second effort targets the old Sacred Heart Catholic Church on South 13th Street. It was completed in 1921, but was replaced by the new Holy Trinity Parish on Sixth Avenue North. Representatives of the parish and the Fort Dodge Historic Preservation Commission are working together to find a new use for the site. They also hope to add it to the National Register of Historic Places. That would bring added prestige and open the doors for some funding opportunities to help pay for preserving the site.

It is impossible to imagine Fort Dodge without Coppin Chapel and Sacred Heart.

That’s why the people conducting these preservation efforts deserve our thanks and support. We hope they succeed.

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