Historic Marion church to be turned into apartments

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 5:29 PM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - A historic church in Marion that almost didn’t come back after the 2020 derecho, is closer to its next era as apartments.

The old First Methodist Episcopal Church on 8th Avenue and 12th Street in Marion has stood since 1896. It was badly damaged in the storm rendering it unusable.

But the church is getting its second chance. Conlon Construction will be turning the building into apartments.

”The thought of losing this building really kept me up a lot at night,” said Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly.

For more than 125 years, the historic old First Methodist Episcopal Church has stood tall in uptown Marion.

”As you can see, it has a really major presence in our small historic district and buildings like this cannot be replaced today. And so they hold all the stories and really contribute to the flavor of our community,” said AbouAssaly.

But like many buildings, after the derecho, it was badly damaged and unusable.

”We really wanted to see it saved,” AbouAssaly said.

So, the city began reaching out to companies to see who could get the job done.

Eventually, they landed on Conlon Construction, but even they initially had reservations.

”No joke, there were crews working in the building to begin the demolition process of this building. And I heard from the mayor of Marion and came up and said can you help us save this church? And my initial reaction after walking through the church was absolutely not. I don’t know what to do with this,” said Matthew Mulligan, President of Conlon Construction.

Mulligan did find something to do with the property: The church will become about 30 apartment units that the mayor described as “workforce housing.”

A practical way to support a growing community, while honoring its past.

”Our history is a big part of what makes Marion so special. And so the ability to save this building and to allow it to contribute to the future and to the growth of Marion is a wonderful thing,” said AbouAssaly.