WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Owner of Demolished Keokuk Church Suing Demolition Contractor

Jan 24, 2018

The organization that owns the land where the former Unitarian Church in Keokuk once stood is now suing the company that tore down the church in December.

Christvision is listed as the owner of the property at 228 North 4th Street. It said in its lawsuit against Keokuk Contractors that as owner, it is entitled to items removed from the church during the demolition.

Christivision said the items are valued at $142,000:

  • 19th Century Dedication Plaque and Stone – Handcrafted December 2, 1874. – 24”x20” – valued at $25,000
  • 19th Century Ornately Handcrafted Gothic Revival Entry Door – Painted Red, Frame with Original Hardware – 15’ x 8’ – valued at $20,000
  • Eight 19th Century Hand Case Ornate Temple Crosses – 3’ – valued at $32,000
  • Finished Stone from Church – valued at $65,000

“Possession was not taken from [Christvision] under an order or judgment of any court against [Christvision], nor any execution or attachment against [Christvision] on the property,” said the organization in its lawsuit.

Christvision wants the court to declare that the organization is the rightful owner of the items in question and to either return them to Christvision or to compensate the organization if the items are not returned.

In its response to the lawsuit, Keokuk Contractors asked the court to dismiss the requests and the lawsuit. The company's response does not state whether it is in possession of the items in question.

The city of Keokuk hired Keokuk Contractors, which submitted the low bid of $174,500, to tear down the church. The company was also charged with disposing of the debris as salvage rights were not included in the contract with the city.

The city has said it took action because it was worried the church could fall down at any moment.

Supporters of the church said at the time of the demolition that they were raising money to try to save the structure.