By Robert Lucke
After six men worked full time for a month and a day, finally there is a brand new roof on St. Marks Episcopal Church on the corner of Sixth Street and Third Avenue.
The job took a month and a day, more time than I had figured, said Bill Welch, owner of Hi-Line Roofing. The weather made the job take longer. We spent lots of time covering and uncovering demolished areas and there was lots of wind.
All roofs can cause trouble when off. Welch made sure that there were no problems with this one.
If you want to get into trouble, have water damage in a house of God, Welch said with a smile. Then the whole congregation will be upset with you.
The soaring main roof on St. Marks rises quickly to a lofty peak. With a 12/12 roof pitch, just staying on the roof was a challenge.
Safety was my main concern. We had to utilize total rigging on the roof and jacks and planks as well. Workers were roped off and a secondary line of defense was jacks and planks, and having two 27-foot high fork lifts helped, Welch said.
The fork lift planking itself would get a third of the way up the main nave roof.
From the time of the first service in the church in 1915, few roofs have been on the structure.
Three times this job has been done since the building was new, Welch said. There were two layers of cedar on the roof and one layer of asphalt.
Just taking the old roofing material to the dump was a job in itself. Four 30-yard dumps and one 13-yard dump of scraps were hauled away.
In addition to putting on new shingles, the men added three inches of ISO insulation and redecked the church roof. New facia boards were added.
The designer shingles were ordered so as to appear to match the original wood roof as much as possible.
The flat tower roof got new insulation and a rubber system. Even that was not without problems.
The only way to get to the top of the tower is through a tiny trap door, so we have had to take everything to finish that roof up on the outside of the building, Welch said.
Red door roof will be completed by the congregation with shingles donated by Hi-Line Roofing.
Steep pitches are nothing new for Welch.
I worked on parts of Donaldson Hall Commons although that was safer, Welch said. There were walkways at the bottom of the roof at Donaldson. We did the Kremlin school and the Presbyterian Church in town. It is like we inherit some of the mean ones.
Built in the Gothic tradition, the church was designed by Havre architect Frank Bossuot. In 1908, sod was first turned at the site and services were held in the partially finished church by the Rev. Leonard Christler in 1915.
Granite stones for the church came from Kahn Brothers in Helena and were hauled to Havre free, thanks to the generosity of the Hill family, owners of the Great Northern Railroad.
Welch said he is proud that the job is finished and that the roof looks much like the original.
It is a beautiful roof and matches the beautiful church, said Welch, while breathing a sigh of relief that the job was done and done safely.