William L. Steel

Renowned architect’s grandsons to attend St. Patrick’s event

Special to The Jefferson Herald

CHURDAN — William LaBarthe Steele’s grandsons, Steve and Craig Steele, have confirmed their intent to attend the 100th birthday celebration Saturday at St. Patrick’s Church west of Churdan.

William Steele was an important architect of the Prairie School during the early 20th century. He designed the first brick church for St. Patrick’s Parish in Greene County in 1915.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, Steele worked in the office of renowned architect Louis Sullivan in Chicago from 1897 to 1900. He settled in Sioux City in 1904 and did most of his work there, including the Woodbury County courthouse.

Over his career, Steele designed more than 250 commercial buildings, churches, synagogues, homes, schools and government buildings in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.

More than 20 of his surviving works are on the National Register of Historic Places, and St. Patrick’s Church is the only Catholic church on the register.

Both grandsons work for the Philip J. Steele Arts Education Foundation, named after their father, a prominent artist and teacher. The mission of the foundation is to encourage, mentor and support students in the Colorado visual arts community through art scholarships and art education programs.

Steve Steele serves as the president for the Philip J. Steele Arts Education Foundation.

His qualifications include being president of Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design for more than 25 years, as well as being president of the International Council of Design Schools.

Steve Steele is a professional artist who creates contemporary, three-dimensional works and sculptural installations that use mixed media including light, motors, water and sound.

Craig Steele is the secretary of the Philip J. Steele Arts Education Foundation.

He enjoys working in a variety of media. He is well known for his pen and ink drawings, watercolor landscapes, acrylic paintings and three-dimensional works constructed of various materials. His work can be found in many private collections.

They will speak at 6:30 p.m. at the ceremony honoring their grandfather and celebrating 100 years of the building.  

Birthday cake will be served in preparation to the ceremonial tapping of the keg while the Iowa Bagpiper plays.

The public is invited anytime that day to view the church, and Mass will be said at 4 p.m.  

There have been extensive renovations of the church the past year.

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