CLINTON – The steeple and bell of the former New Hope Lutheran Church will soon leave their long-standing home at North Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue North.
City Council authorized the sale of 401-405 N. Fourth St. to Matt Lyons for $ 7,500 in August. Lyon plans to create apartments in the building, city administrator Matt Brooke said at the August 24 city council meeting.
The development agreement with Lyon requires it to complete renovations within 12 months, Brooke said.
The church at 401 N. Fourth St. in Clinton was originally the Danish Lutheran Church, historian Gary Herrity wrote in a 2009 article. Clinton herald article.
The Danes came to Clinton and settled in the center of town near Elm Street. They had Big Dane Hall on North Fourth Avenue behind Hans Knabe’s store and The Little Dane Hall a block south.
In the 1950s, the Danes renamed the church to English, but they called it St. Stephen’s because the name St. John’s was already in use, Herrity said. Years later, the congregation named the church New Hope Lutheran.
On January 10, 2009, a fire destroyed New Hope. In November 2009, the congregation offered to donate part of their property to the city for green space. Clinton Trees Forever was awarded grants to cover the cost of landscaping the 40-foot by 90-foot plot.
The park opened in August 2010.
The agreement with Clinton Trees Forever expired in 2020 and Brooke asked the city’s Monuments Committee to find a new location for the steeple so the city could sell the old church property.
Councilors Gregg Obren and Ron Mussmann were among those looking for a location for the historic steeple.
The Monuments Committee contacted local Lutheran churches to see if they would display the structure, and a church pastor had tentatively agreed, Obren said Thursday. But the church’s governing body voted against it.
Committee members discussed setting up the Springdale Cemetery Spire to keep it in the neighborhood, but with the cemetery in receivership with the state, the committee thought the move could be a violation of the separation of church and state, Obren said.
The city ultimately decided to put the steeple behind the Clinton County Historical Society Museum near the caboose. The property is owned by the city, but the city intends to hand it over to the museum to avoid problems between church and state, Obren said.
The steeple’s concrete slab was poured and the steeple was prepared for relocation. When that happens, it will depend on the city’s public works department, Obren said.