OGDEN -- The oldest continually used historic building in this city needs some help to stay structurally sound.
That is the message members of The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 2374 Grant Ave., are spreading to get some financial support from the community.
They're telling the story of how their church steeple houses the first church bell heard in Ogden, and how it was the first Ogden building to be placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.
Members have raised about half of the approximately $120,000 they need to ensure that their 138-year-old church will stand for another century and more. Now they're turning to their friends and neighbors for the rest.
"The original church has deteriorated over time," said Rich Bauter, a member of the vestry, the governing board of the parish. He also is on the restoration funding committee.
Much of the project will focus on replacing the mortar holding together the building's gray sandstone, Bauter said.
Besides pulling out and replacing crumbled and cracked mortar and rocks, other work that needs to be done, Bauter said, is installing physical barriers that will keep water away from the structure.
New landscaping, paving and irrigation systems will protect the church from future harm, states a brochure the church distributes.
The Rev. Vanessa Cato said a Mendon quarry where the rock facade was taken from has been located, and additional stones will be available to replace those that have deteriorated beyond repair.
New protective panels will cover the church's historic stained-glass windows.
Inside, procedures will repair walls that have pulled away from the paint.
Church members discovered the need for the expensive repair work right on the heels of building a new education wing.
It was late last year that a stone mason, who was working on the restoration of Ogden High School, visited to admire the church's stonework.
At that time, he expressed concern that the mortar holding the stones was badly eroded and should be repaired.
"What a shock it was to hear that our beautiful, historic church building was in danger of falling down," Cato wrote in the pamphlet distributed by the church as part of the fundraising effort.
"It would be a shame to have one of the most historic buildings in Ogden fall down," Cato said in an interview. "Even people who are not Episcopalian like this little church. It's a very pretty church. It looks like what people think churches should look like."
The church has hired MJSA Architecture, a Salt Lake City firm with extensive experience in architectural preservation, to help with the project.
Work is expected to begin in the spring.
Bauter said a landscape architect told church members they needed to move on the project soon.
"He said if we do what we are planning to do, our church will stand tall for another 150 years."
But Bauter said the project is not a simple one.
"We have highly specialized stone masons from around the West," he said. "We have been very dutiful in going after the very best people."
Two upcoming events are scheduled, with the public invited to help parishioners raise money for this project.
A rummage and housewares sale will be held at the church from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and a spaghetti dinner and comedy night is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Tickets for Thursday's "Save our church! Don't let the walls come tumblin' down" event are $25 per person. RSVP by calling Linda Harden at the church, 801-392-8168.
For information, visit goodshepherdogden.org.
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