Parowan’s Old Rock Church needs your help to “Raise the Roof”6 min read

By John Turner

This is the next in a series of articles that began in March with the announcement of the upcoming second fundraising event for Parowan’s Old Rock Church beginning with a quilt show on Friday June 21st in the basement of the church, and continuing with a whole day of family activities on Saturday June 22nd. As May comes to a close, quite a bit of the work, paid for from last year’s fundraiser, is well underway or completed for this initial phase of the rehabilitation project. All the white wood, rails, doors and trim have been scraped and primed and have a new coat of paint. In early May, on a windy day, work began on the steeple which had become twisted over the years and appeared to be tilting backwards. City Manager Dan Jessen devised a plan to twist the steeple back into position and secure it in place from inside the belfry with a network of custom-made metal braces, straps and turnbuckles that will hold it securely in place to make it safe for the painting to be completed.

Dan and City employee Stephen Ward, along with Matt Rosenberg, the painter, twisted it so slowly and carefully that it didn’t appear to be moving, but when they were done, it was clearly straight and back in its correct position. (Please use steeple picture here) Now the steeple is straight and the outside wood has received a facelift, the next phase of this renovation is to replace the roof, hence the theme of this year’s fundraiser is “Raise the Roof”.

Liz and Tom Zaleski, restoration committee co-chair Karen Miller along with the mayor, were all on hand for the steeple straightening project and let me into the church, using what appeared to be the original key (please use key picture here), which was fascinating after all these years had gone by and most likely not replaceable by a locksmith in today’s world. While I was there watching the work I wandered around the museum and remembered the first trip I had made there, and looking at the walls with the faces of the early ancestors from the 1800’s. They all look so stern and somber, as do many of the pictures you see from that era. I know from my years of doing photo work that back in those early days the subject had to hold very still, for up to 5 minutes, since there was no such thing as high-speed film back then. It’s tough to hold a smile for that long without twitching and blurring the photo, so they all kept their faces straight and expressionless. I remember having a conversation with one of the tour guides who also pointed out to me that it was quite likely that the hard life they lead was another reason they didn’t have much to smile about. However, those serious looking folk still managed to raise and contribute enough money to build this historic church which was later converted into a museum and is now badly in need of repair so that it can remain as a testament to the pioneer way of life that this county is so proud of.

As I got to know the restoration committee better, we discussed the possibility of looking into how we could reach out to the descendants of these pioneers, and ask those folks for their help with the restoration project. No one was very sure how we were going to find all these descendants, so that project was put on hold until along came Lola Ann Jones. Her unofficial title is “Daughters of Utah Pioneers Historian Extraordinaire” and initially, she was somewhat pessimistic about finding a list of descendants of those hard-working ancestors however, she eventually pulled a miracle out of her hat and came up with an original list of contributors from 1861, and the amount they pledged for the construction of the church to begin. (see the list below). Lola Ann laid down a challenge to the families of these original contributors to match the amount donated by their ancestors and made note of the fact that, with inflation, a dollar in 1861 is about $25 in today’s economy. Lola Ann and the entire restoration committee are hoping that the present-day relatives will step up and reach deep into their pockets to get this historic piece of architecture restored so that future generations can also appreciate their heritage. (please try to include the alphabetized list here)
Please search the list for your family names, and invite family members and others to attend the fundraiser. A photographer will be on hand from 11am to 4pm to capture a photograph of your family in front of the church as a remembrance of the day. Check the ORC Facebook page for details. The family portrait is certainly not limited to descendants of the pioneers, anyone who attends may request a picture of their family with the church in the background.

As of now, the final coat of paint has been completed and is glistening in the afternoon sun, the twisted steeple is fixed and stable, but much more work needs to be done in the near future, including replacing the roof which is one of the targets of this year’s fundraiser.

The church is the most recognizable symbol of the Mother Town of Southern Utah, and this Mother is asking for help. Please try to attend and help us on Saturday, June 22nd from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm on the church grounds, including dinner and auctions starting at 5:30 pm.

If you have any donations for the auction or can give us some time, please contact Tom & Liz Zaleski at (435) 477-9094 or text (435) 590-9094 or Karen Miller at (435) 393-1004.
Venmo: @Parowan-OldRockChurch or MAIL donations to: Old Rock Church, c/o Karen Miller, PO Box 929, Parowan, Utah 84761


Alphabetized list of Old Rock Church Contributors

Orson B. Adams 125.00
Wm. Adams 150.00
Lorenzo Barton 150.00
Stephen Barton 50.00
Herman D. Bayles 150.00
John Burton (colored) 15.00
Sidney R. Burton 50.00
John R. Carter 50.00
Hans Christensen 100.00
Daniel P. Clark 125.00
Mark A. Coombs 100.00
Wm. Dalley 75.00
Edward Dalton 100.00
Harry Dalton 100.00
Thos. Davenport 100.00
Wm. Davenport 50.00
Thos. Durham 50.00
Marius Ensign 100.00
Jenkin & Thos. Evans 150.00
Horace Fish 100.00
Joseph Fish 50.00
James Guymon 100.00
A. S. Hadden 150.00
Collins R. Hakes 100.00
Ebenezer Hanks 250.00
Wm. G. Hanks 100.00
Jorgen Hansen 50.00
Nelson S. Hollingshead 100.00
George Holyoak, Jr. 100.00
Henry Holyoak 40.00
Wm. Holyoak 200.00
John S. Hoyt 75.00
Silas Hoyt 50.00
Peter Jensen 60.00
Wm. Leany 50.00
Wm. LeFevre 100.00
James Lewis 100.00
Sidney Littlefield 50.00
Jesse Lowder 150.00
Wm. Marsden 200.00
Wm. C. McGregor 150.00
James McGuffie 100.00

Robert E. Miller 100.00
Wm. C. Mitchell 75.00
A. J. Mortensen 100.00
Loren Mortensen 50.00
Neils Mortensen 100.00
Wm. A. Newman 50.00
Jens Nielson 125.00
Alex Orton 100.00
Daniel Page, Jr. 50.00
J. K. Paramore 100.00
James E. Parvill 100.00
C. C. Pendleton 100.00
Christen Rasmussen 50.00
Niels Rasmussen 40.00
Morgan Richards 125.00
Thos. Richards 50.00
Samuel Rogers 100.00
Samuel Rowley 50.00
Wm. Rowe 50.00
John Rowley 50.00
Josiah Rogerson 50.00
Wm. Rogerson 100.00
Martin Slack 50.00
Abraham Smith 100.00
George A. Smith 25.00
John Smith 50.00
Paul Smith 100.00
Silas S. Smith 100.00
John Steele 50.00
John Topham 100.00
David Ward (wheat) 100.00
Edward Ward 50.00
John Wardell 100.00
Wm. S. Warren 250.00
Charles Y. Webb 100.00
John A. West 100.00
Samuel West 100.00
Wm. West 60.00
John White (paid) 30.00
Francis T. Whitney 100.00

TOTAL $7,495.00



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