Susan Rueb estimated the damage to a historic church east of Dodge City to be in the hundreds of thousands.
The president of the board of directors of Windthorst Heritage, which bought the church in 1997 for $1, said the damage to the 1913 Immaculate Heart of Mary Church was discovered last week after a clogged boiler caused the water pipes to burst.
“If you went in the church today it would look like a war zone,” Rueb said, adding the sanctuary and basement were flooded.
Rueb had help to pump 500 gallons of water out of the boiler. ServiceMaster is working to get further moisture out of the church. Rueb said an insurance agent estimated the damage to be over $500,000, which will need to be raised by donations.
Rueb said preserving the history is important. She said the church was nicknamed the “Cathedral of the Plains” since it could be seen from so far.
“You look at all the small towns of western Kansas … and they probably have a religious part to their establishment when settled,” Rueb said. “I’m still gonna save the church, one way or the other.”
She said the nonprofit Windthorst Heritage bought the church from the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, saving it from demolition. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. It closed in 1997.
The church can hold over 400 people, she said, and is now mainly used for private Masses or by the Dodge City Community College chorus.
“Our acoustics are outstanding,” Rueb said.
Anyone wishing to donate time, services or funds can contact Rueb at (620) 408-8457.
The Dodge City Daily Globe contributed to this story.