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Mystery church in Iowa?

March 5, 2017


This distinguished building looked familiar when it materialized on the on-line auction site that shall not be named. So I took it on faith that the listing was correct: “Church construction Cherokee IA”. But when I looked at the posting here for a Methodist church in Cherokee, red flags went up. I’m confident that a resolution will come about. Compare the ostensible Cherokee church (above) with another view of what should be the same building:


The similarities are enough to believe they might be identical — if the two images are not side by side — but a closer inspection detects several obvious differences. The site, for example, is decidedly sloped from right to left along the front entry elevation of the real Cherokee church. Also not that the street intersection is at the right side of the church, e.i., the secondary street runs along its right side. Yet on the mystery church, the site is relatively flat and the street corner is on the left. Then there is the troublesome bell tower, which is nowhere to be seen at the building we can presume to be properly identified.

The differences carry on into the details. Yes, there are four Ionic columns, but notice the spacing, especially of the outer columns and the defining wing walls: they are closer at Cherokee and measurably farther on the other church. Cherokee’s doors are placed left and right within the portico, i.e., not straight ahead. Whereas the entry doors of the unknown church appear to be straight ahead. Also the lintels/hoods on the window openings are not the same.

All things considered, I’m inclined to attribute both of these building to the same designer but for different clients in (if google.maps is to be believed) in different cities. Advice from any Iowans in the audience will be appreciated.

PS [later that same day]: The interweb is a wondrous place. Some random image searching may have answered the question. Here is a Presbyterian church in Sterling, Colorado, which — if not the mystery church in question — is surely by the same architect. I sense the hand of architect John C. Fulton in all this:


Sans tower, of course.

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One Comment
  1. Richard Cawthon permalink

    The mystery building is apparently the First Methodist Church of Fort Dodge, Iowa (1914).

    There’s a head-on view in google images that makes the building look at least twice as large as it does in the unidentified postcard. And the lack of any landscaping only exaggerates the effect. I wonder why the seller identified it as Cherokee; there is no labeling on the card itself and no postmark. Interior views don’t leave much opportunity for a genuine A-A plan: no logical place for the movable partition.

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