In July of 1961, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, one of the oldest churches in the city, was being prepared to be razed to make way for the River Hills urban renewal project. The Gothic styled landmark, located at Second and Crocker streets, was completed in 1877.
St. Mary’s parish was established primarily for German speaking residents of Des Moines. German was spoken and taught in the school during the early years.
However, a few families of Italian extraction, also were parishioners during the existence of the church. Such names as Jiacopetti, Comito, Scalise, Grandanette, Andreucetti, Simonini, Rinaldi, Marchetti, LaCava, Prati, Leonard, Papollni, Orsucci, Capello, Palandri, Piagantini and Canarini could be found on the church list.
At the time of the razing, the pastor at St. Mary’s was Father Dominic Webber, order of the Benedictine’s.
The etching of St. Mary’s Church shown here was drawn by Mr. Joseph Parisi, 1321 41st Street. Mr. Parisi had completed two years in art from Art Instruction, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn. He had also taken courses in art lettering at Des Moines Tech, design and competition at the Des Moines Art Center. In 1961, he was employed at Look Magazine.
– from the American Citizen newspaper, July 28, 1961