WATERLOO — The city is claiming an out-of-state investor has allowed the former St. Mary’s nunnery to decay beyond repair.
Waterloo City Attorney David Zellhoefer was in Black Hawk County District Court Thursday asking Judge Linda Fangman to declare the building at 123 E. Parker St. as abandoned and grant ownership to the city.
Owner Henry Anderson of Downey, Calif., did not appear for the hearing but filed an affidavit contending the city caused him to lose his grandchildren’s $600,000 college fund by failing to apply for federal funds to help him renovate the building.
Anderson filed a longer affidavit Wednesday claiming city officials were guilty of 37 counts of “felony, high crimes and misdemeanors,” including domestic mixed war, slavery, treason, fraud, extortion, robbery and racketeering, for which he was owed more than $11 million in damages.
Zellhoefer said those claims have no merit.
“The bottom line is that Dr. Anderson purchased the property in 2006 and has done nothing to improve it,” he said. “In reality, he has abandoned it. He has not paid the property taxes. He has failed to maintain the building. Water, black mold, animal feces and damage from vandalism are present.
“He entered into this sale with no participation or promises from the city,” Zellhoefer added. “The citizens of Waterloo will now have to foot the bill for the cleanup and demolition.”
Anderson purchased the former St. Mary’s church, school, rectory and nuns’ home from the Roman Catholic Church for $475,000 in 2006 with stated plans to save the historic property.
But the buildings sat empty without utilities or maintenance as no improvements were made.
The city seized title to the church, school and rectory through a court order last August after presenting evidence the structures had deteriorated beyond repair. The nunnery, which had last been used as the St. Mary’s Villa retirement home, was not part of the August ruling.
St. Mary’s Church and School was built in 1922 and was the church and school for the famous five Sullivan brothers killed during World War II while serving aboard the same U.S. Navy ship. A convent and rectory were added to the property in 1956.
St. Mary’s Church stopped holding services in 2003 when several parishes were combined and the school was renamed Queen of Peace. The Cedar Valley Catholic Schools Board of Education then closed the school and shut down St. Mary’s Villa for financial reasons in June 2006.
The city is working on plans to tear down the rectory for a flood control project. It has received numerous inquiries from residents wanting to salvage artifacts from the church, but any such action would require City Council approval.