New roof being installed on St. Mary's Old Town Chapel

Friday, May. 06, 2022
New roof being installed on St. Mary's Old Town Chapel + Enlarge
St. Mary of the Assumption Parish is replacing the roof of its Old Town Chapel in downtown Park City.
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

PARK CITY — Next fall, St. Mary of the Assumption Parish’s Old Town Chapel will greet returning skiers and worshippers with a brand-new metal roof.

The repair project, which includes a new roof for the parish hall, is being overseen by parishioner Fred Strasser, a former general superintendent at Oakland Construction, who is donating his time and labor.

“I’ve been a parishioner at St. Mary’s since 1979, so it has been home,” he said.

In 1985, Strasser and another parishioner installed the church’s current cedar-shingled roof. It is starting to show wear, and sections have fallen off.

“The shingles are cracking and it’s starting to turn up,” Strasser said. “A cedar shingle has a life span of about 25 years; that was 37 years ago.”

Under updated fire codes, cedar shingles are no longer allowed, and a metal roof is required by Park City.

Strasser replaced the parish hall roof in 2000.

For the current project, Strasser and a crew provided by another parishioner, Scott Smith, will take the sheeting off and reinsulate the roof. Vertex Roofing will remove the old shingles and install the new roof. The buildings will be closed during the project, which will begin in early June and is expected to take eight to 10 weeks, Strasser said.

The project is expected to cost more than $250,000. The majority of the funds have been donated anonymously by two parishioners, said Parish Administrator Sandy Foley. The remainder was drawn from the Old Town Chapel Preservation Fund and from smaller donations by other parishioners.  

“It is significantly more expensive to do this kind of roof than it would be to just replace the cedar shingles,” Foley said.

Built in 1884, the Old Town Chapel is Utah’s oldest existing Catholic church. It served as the parish’s primary church until 1997, when the new church on White Pine Canyon Road was built. Sunday services are still held in the building downtown, which also is home to the parish food bank and is a location for parish meetings and the site for many retreats. The chapel is also open for daily prayer.

“It’s important to preserve our history in the Catholic Church in Utah, and St. Mary’s Old Town Chapel is one of the oldest Catholic churches in the state,” said St. Mary’s pastor, Father Christopher Gray. “It is a very significant place in our local history.”

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