Father Jackson made the decision to use a then new and lasting material called “PermaStone.” He had the interior of the church and rectory covered as the school had been done. The artificial stone is still holding up well today. At first, the Holy Name Sodality was in charge of raising the money to do the modernization work, but it was Leo McEleney who spear-headed its completion — which cost more than $45,000 — although “nobody ever knew how.” Ironically, this was the exact price of the original construction.
In 1906, under Father Comerford, the church’s interior was reversed so that the main thoroughfare, Second Street, with its trolley car line could be utilized and it would also eliminate the need for the many steps leading up from Roosevelt Street.
An anniversary Solemn High Mass was celebrated on Sunday, Nov. 28, 1948, with the Rev. Walter McEleney as celebrant; Deacon, Rev. F. Lollich; Sub-Deacon, Rev. Charles Shepler; Arch-Priest, Rev. E.F. Jackson; M. of C. Rev. W. Sondag; and the address by the Most Rev. Ralph L. Hayes, Bishop of Davenport. Some noted family names in 1948 were: Horst, Lollich, Soesbe, Ehrhart, Burke, McConohy, Klaes, Schoel, McDonnell, Sino, Waldorf, McCarthy, Spittler, Pape, Kenny, Dever, Cossman, Hilgendorf and Hannafan. The parish had a mixture of many nationalities.
St. Irenaeus was closed in 2010, due to consolidation of five parishes into Prince of Peace Church which became the sole parish/Catholic Church in Clinton. Fortunately, St. Irenaeus, the oldest Catholic Church in Clinton, was taken over by the Clinton County Historical Society.
Today, they use it as an assembly hall and program center with more plans for the future. This separate corporation, hopefully, ensures the long existence of this very important piece of Clinton history.
n Sources — Bob Soesbe, Jan Hansen, Clinton County Historical Society Museum: St. Irenaeus Parish Centennial Celebration, 1848-1948 (available for reading at Irenaeus, Boniface or CCHSM.) Look for a coming article/book by author, Mary Ellen Eckelberg.
Gary Herrity is the Clinton Herald’s historical columnist. His column appears in the Herald on Fridays.