Repairs underway at Sacred Heart Church

Scaffolding is going up around the towers of Sacred Heart Church in Cullman. Workers will repair roof damage caused by the March 2018 hailstorm. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – With scaffolding coming together in front of Sacred Heart Church in Cullman, one might wonder: What’s happening with such a historic marker? The Tribune spoke with Philip Frappaolo, general manager of Sacred Heart, to find out.

“The work on the church is due to the damage caused by last year’s hailstorm,” he said. “At that time, significant denting to the roofing material (zinc metal shingles) raised concerns that more damage would show after a number of months went by.”

He continued, “CopperWorks of Decatur installed this roofing material a number of years ago and asked our insurance carrier to wait until the real damage would show. This company specializes in metal roof fabrication and are experts in this field. This past summer a metallurgist from the insurance company visited and they and the roofing company went up on the towers to evaluate the situation. Sure enough, the zinc panels had developed holes that would allow the entry of water into the towers and perhaps the interior of the church if not taken care of in a timely manner.”

Frappaolo said most of the damage occurred to the two towers at the front of the church.

“The rest of the roof is intact,” he said. “It was determined that the work could be done before Christmas if we acted quickly, as the roofer has other contracts lined up after the first of the year. We did not want to wait until next spring as the rainy season will be upon us probably in March.”

When asked if the timing is otherwise significant, being right before Oktoberfest, Frappaolo said, “Oktoberfest did not enter into the decision making. It was more a matter of when the roofer was available. The scaffolding will take six weeks to assemble, then they will deal with the damage to the towers, which will run into December.”

Frappaolo also noted how often the roof is inspected.

“We inspect the roof on average every five years to assure that the materials are holding up. The zinc panels are rugged; however, that 2018 hailstorm destroyed our school roof, which is made of aluminum panels, and it was only one-and-a-half years old,” he said. “That storm was quite destructive, as many businesses and homes in Cullman were damaged severely. Insurance claims ran in the millions!”

Frappaolo took a moment to share some of the history of the sandstone on the church’s exterior.

“The sandstone on the building is over 100 years old and came from quarries here in Alabama. Same for the wood that was used in the building, which came from the local Veigl forest,” he said. “The Veigls are longtime residents of Cullman and some are members of this parish. Some minor repairs are needed to the sandstone and will be done during the roofing project.”

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Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune
Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune
Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune
Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune