Burlington, Iowa on the Mississippi
712 Division Street
St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church
As St. Paul’s flourished and with an influx of German immigrants in the 1840s, the Germans were encouraged to establish their own parish, and in 1855 a new church building was erected on the east side of S. 7th Street. The congregation grew rapidly - the revolutions of 1848 in Europe (also known as “Spring of Nations”) for democracy resulted in many Germans immigrating to Burlington in the 1850s. Plans for the current church were drawn by architect John Dillenberg of Chicago, and the construction began in 1883. By 1888, St. John’s had over 2000 members to fill their new church.
The octagonal steeple of St. John’s is 168 feet tall and is the highest of all of Burlington's steeples due to its perch on top of a hill. It is the best example of a Gothic Revival structure of all the churches in the steeple lighting group with its tall narrow windows with pointed arches. St. John’s was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
In 2010, St. John’s was the first church in the city to be lighted and became the inspiration for the Burlington Lightscape Project. The lights for this church are not LEDs like the rest of the other projects. Since 2010, technological advances have lowered the costs and made LED lighting more feasible. St. John’s is the first church that can be seen when approaching Burlington from the east and is the southernmost Lightscape steeple. The top of Snake Alley is an excellent location for viewing this church.