Amana Church moves forward on ‘Restore Revive Renew’ project
Receiving the National Trust for Historic Preservation – National Trust for Sacred Places grant in 2021 has spurred Amana Church’s restoration efforts of the Main Amana Assembly Hall (Meetinghouse/Church) and Middle Amana Children’s School (Nursery School).
In 2021, the Amana Church launched an initiative called “Restore Revive Renew” to significantly improve both buildings for future use. Much progress has been made in the last year. Construction documents will be submitted to the Amana Colonies Land Use District this spring, says Amana Church administrator Elly Hoehnle. It is planned to start work on the buildings in the summer.
Amana Church members discussed the plans at a special meeting at Middle Amana Church on Sunday, February 5, after the 10 a.m. service. As of January 1, 2023, the Restore Revive Renew Fund Drive has raised $333,641 in cash, pledges and grants. That’s over 90 percent of the Phase 1 target of $364,387. These include the initial $70,000 grant from the National Trust for Sacred Places and a $50,000 donation from the Amana Society, Inc.
Additionally, the Amana Community Food Pantry received $8,500 from the Iowa County Community Foundation to build a rehab, report co-chairs Jon Childers and Emilie Hoppe.
“This project has really taken off and we’ve seen such widespread, enthusiastic support for it from so many people,” Childers said. “It was really enjoyable.”
The Amana Meeting House is the largest of the Amana churches and is now used for special services, weddings, funerals and public gatherings and events. It is the home of the Amana Sunday School and offers space for Bible studies and Monday lunches for “seniors”. Senior Dining is now paused but will be back. The children’s school is not currently in use, but Amana Church will put it to good use as the new home of the Amana Community Food Pantry. The Food Pantry provides food to an average of 30 Amanas, Iowa County families every two weeks by accepting food and monetary donations.
List of repairs and refurbishments to the 1864 meetinghouse include: construction of a new west side handicap accessible ramp and replacement of the east side ramp; repair all entrances; replace fire escapes upstairs; Remove the 1950’s asbestos siding on the east and west sides and replace with historically accurate clapboard siding. Repair or replace fascias and soffits; re-lay chimneys; repair foundation retaining walls; restore dormer windows; Renew/restore stone foundation.
At the children’s school, which is located behind the Middle Amana Church, it will be difficult to make the building usable. The plans include: interior repairs to walls and floors; Add utilities, upgrade electrical system, heating/cooling; add sidewalk; restore/replace siding; repair frames; restore windows; Repair porch and entryway; Repair foundation and relocate chimney.
The fundraiser will continue as the Church works towards its Phase 1 goal and then begins the campaign towards the Phase 2 goal. Estimated total requirement is $472,387 for Phase 1 and 2.
“We’re getting closer and we’re so grateful to everyone who contributed to this,” said Hoppe, co-chair of the fundraiser. “I think the emotion behind each gift speaks to what people have said or written about their donation – they feel that giving for that cause is giving back to a community that meant something to them. It doesn’t matter if you’re a current resident or a former resident, it doesn’t matter if you’re a lifelong resident or not – this is our home and these buildings are central to who we are and are as a community what we hope to be in the future.”
Donations can be sent to the Amana Church, PO Box 103, Middle Amana, Iowa, 52307 or go to AmanaChurch.com, under the Restore Revive Renew tab for Venmo and credit card donations.