Sacred Heart roof repairs finished

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Sacred Heart Church as seen Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Note the scaffolding is off the south tower. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Scaffolding began going up around Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church’s towers back in September. Now, just more than three months later, it is coming down.

Sacred Heart General Manager Philip Frappaolo was excited to share with The Tribune Wednesday, “The roof job is completed! All new zinc shingles and shielding are now in place. The crosses were redone in 24-carat gold leaf. Lightning protection was improved with new arrestors placed at the tip of each cross. What remains is to get the scaffolding down and clean up.”

The work done was the result of significant denting to the zinc shingles during the March 2018 hailstorm. The denting raised concerns that more damage would be revealed as time progressed.

Frappaolo told The Tribune back in September: “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.”

Wednesday, he shared, “CopperWorks was indeed the contractor. They completed the work back in 1999 and also did the towers this time. They are one of the few expert metalwork companies that do metal fabrication all over the U.S. and in Europe.”

Frappaolo said the recent rains delayed the repairs somewhat.

“The rainy weather did interfere and added approximately an additional two weeks to the project,” he said. “Guenther Huber of CopperWorks had intended to be done by Christmas. We are currently working on a January 12 completion date; however, I do not believe the scaffolding on the north tower will be down until near the end of January. That job is under a sub-contract.”

He continued, “For a building originally completed in 1916, the church is holding up well. We keep up with repairs and maintenance which you must commit to when caring for such structures. Our next project will be to replace the front doors with new doors made of white oak. We expect that project to occur in February of 2020. The doors that are currently in place were fabricated at St. Bernard Abbey back when they had a woodworking facility and monks that were craftsmen. We can trace the doors back to 1916; however, they have been recladded a few times, the last time we believe during the 1950s.”

Frappaolo also shared that the towers have two new residents.

“We do have two large barn owls in the towers, a mother and one of her offspring,” he smiled. “They keep the pigeon population in check during the year. Mom has quite a wing span according to the roofing crew. They had to work carefully around her and the owlet during the recent repairs. She can be an angry parent when she wants to be and we rarely see her. We do hear her at night when she is out hunting for food.”

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Maggie Darnell

maggie@cullmantribune.com