© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sioux City Council Accepts Agreement To Relocate WWII Chapel

Courtesy of the City of Sioux City
Federal regulations say the historic chapel and housing conflict with what the land is meant for at Sioux Gateway Airport, so the city will work to move it somewhere else.

Sioux City has started the process of relocating a historic World War II chapel and airmen’s housing project currently sitting near the local airport. The chapel is one of the last remaining pieces of Sioux City’s World War II air base, but doesn’t work with the airport’s current land use.
The Sioux City council on Monday approved an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office. The agreement starts the process of finding a place to move the structures, so the airport land can be used for development in the future.

Federal regulations say the historic chapel and housing conflict with what the land is meant for at Sioux Gateway Airport.  The new location for the chapel has yet to be determined. Discussions have taken place about moving it a little more than a mile to the nearby Sioux City Mid-America Museum of Aviation and Transportation, but Assistant City Mike Collett said the museum is not interested in receiving it.  

The chapel and housing sit on two parcels, or 24 acres of airport land, according to council documents. A Woodbury County supervisor confirmed Tuesday that the county is considering the site as a potential spot for a new jail.

The chapel is not being used, but a loosely formed nonprofit has expressed an interest in taking it over. Collett said the city wants to see it preserved and put to good use.

“Maybe they’d entertain some kind of history of that base inside the chapel,” Collett said. “I wouldn’t call it a museum, but they'd have some kind of exhibits to maintain the story of the facility.”

Now that the agreement is in place, the city can start to look at where to move the chapel. The city says it could take a couple of years before any decisions are made. There are currently no plans for the airmen’s housing project.

Sioux City Councilman Dan Moore said he wants to see the chapel used in a “quality project," preserved in a way that would be open to the public.

“Whatever we end up with, we want it to be dedicated to the service people that took the risks, some, many gave their lives for the freedom we have today,” Moore said. “We want to preserve that, but we need to do it with quality, we've got to make sure it’s done well, and that it's maintained over the years.”

The city has already completed an environmental assessment to ensure the chapel could be moved without being destroyed.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.