In 1876, Bill Ryan deeded four acres of land in rural Polk County for a Catholic church and cemetery. The first wood frame church was constructed shortly after, with the name Holy Cross chosen in honor of Ryan’s childhood parish in Ireland. The original church burned to the ground on October 22, 1927. Though the church hierarchy did not plan to rebuild Holy Cross, the congregation came together to lead the reconstruction effort.
The current brick structure was designed by Des Moines-based architect John Normille. He based his design on village churches he had seen overseas; in fact, the spire, the entrance, the beamed ceiling, and the roof trusses in the nave are all from Europe, while the altar was shipped from Ireland. The church building was dedicated in 1929.