The National Park Service has added a Catholic church in Des Moines to the National Register of Historic Places.
The St. Anthony Parish was started as a Missionary Church to serve Italians who had immigrated to Des Moines. A priest assigned to the parish bought an old fire house and that’s where the parish’s first mass was celebrated in August of 1906. The St. Anthony School opened six years later.
The push to establish the current church building began in 1928 and completed in 1930. It’s constructed in the Lombardy Romanesque Revival design. The Lombards ruled Italy centuries ago and the Romanesque Revival style is known for rounded arches over windows.
At one time, St. Anthony was the largest parish in the Des Moines Diocese. A book has been published to chronicle the parish’s history, including the fundraising campaign to build the church. Women in the parish baked bread — and buying one loaf bought a brick for the church. There was a neighborhood outdoor oven for bread baking on the church property.