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Current view of St. Matthew's by the Bridge
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

St. Matthew's by the Bridge, constructed in 1913, is a good local example of a Tudor Revival style church. The Tudor Revival style was very popular during the early part of the 20th century and was commonly used for residences, offices and school buildings, as well as churches. The church designer, Robert Layton, was an industrial arts teacher in the Iowa Falls School System. An Englishman, Layton returned to his old home on a visit in 1912, and made sketches of several village churches in the area. Armed with these sketches, he drew the plans from which St. Matthew's was built the following year. Two of his students, Louis and Ernie Weldon, assisted him in making the blueprints.

Historic view of St. Matthew's by the Bridge Episcopal Church
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

The church is a single-story rectangular building measuring 24 by 60 feet perched on the palisade overlooking the Iowa River. The building is of wood frame construction covered with stucco. The gable ends have a simple simulated half-timbered effect and paneled verge boards. Diagonal braces appear to support the roof. The interior of St. Matthew's remains basically unchanged. The altar is located at the east end of the sanctuary. The aisle is arranged just to the left of center, with narrow pews along the north wall. The interior structural system of King posts, Queen posts, collar beams, and struts makes a dramatic vertical statement. The feeling of the sanctuary is that of a small, intimate place of worship.

St. Matthew's by the Bridge Episcopal Church is located at Oak and Railroad Sts. next to the Oak Street Bridge, in Iowa Falls. Tours are available by appointment. Please call 641-648-5314 or 648-4017 for information. Donations are accepted and a special organ mini-concert is available.

[graphic] Collage of different scenes from Hardin County
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