One historic church in Denison recently received a makeover. St. Patrick’s Catholic church underwent a two-year, $1.6 million remodel in 2015-2016.

Because of the work put into the restoration, the church was entered to win an award for downtown Denison. St. Patrick’s was named as a finalist for a Texas Downtown Association President’s Award at the end of the summer.

“The awards program recognizes outstanding projects, places, and people of Texas downtowns and is sponsored by the Texas Downtown Association,” Denison Main Street Director Donna Dow said in a press release. “St. Patrick’s Catholic Church is a finalist in the best restoration under 50,000 population category. The other finalists are the Landmark Inn State Historic Site in Castroville and M.L. Edwards & Co. in Mount Vernon.”

The President’s Awards Gala was held Nov. 8 in McKinney. The TDA awards includes 12 categories and judges saw more than 100 entries.

“We did the exterior,” Frank Ventura of the church said. “The church is over 100 years old. It had leaks in the brick and roof. Altogether the restoration cost about $1.6 million. We had to hire engineers that did classic churches because it not only required special services, the construction people needed to know how to work with the materials used on old churches.”

St. Patrick Catholic Church is the second oldest parish in the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and is older than the diocese whose jurisdiction it is under. The church was established in 1873 by Bishop Claude Dubuis of Galveston.

“In the second half of the 19th century, land in Denison was free to any interested religious congregation,” Ventura said. “In 1872, local Catholics came together to worship and establish a permanent community and built a simple wood frame space for worship. The parish was established on Rusk and grew exponentially during the westward migration occurring after the American Civil War.”

In 1882, land was purchased for a new church building diagonally across the street to accommodate the growing Catholic presence in Denison.

“Boasting a membership over 1,200, St. Patrick Church realized that a larger space was necessary,” Ventura said. “Nicholas Clayton, the preeminent Galveston architect responsible for the Cathedral in Dallas, built a new church for St. Patrick Catholic Community in Denison. Dedicated in 1898, the original building was destroyed by fire in 1911, but rebuilt and dedicated in February 1914.”

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church has been standing in the same spot since 1914.

“St. Patrick Catholic Church in Denison is one of the most beautiful and oldest historical structures in northern Texas as it has been in existence and utilized as a place of worship for over 100 years,” Ventura said. “It has endured tornadoes, hail storms and fire over the years. However, over the recent years, the church building has been experiencing water penetration from the exterior of the building caused by roof, wall and flashing leaks.”

The need for a restoration became immediate when it became evident that continued water damage was causing the church to deteriorate.

“In fact, it is our understanding that if these leaks were not repaired in a timely manner, the church may become too costly to repair,” Ventura said. “In addition to the water penetration there was a need for restoration of the 100-year-old organ, rework of the front entrance to make it ADA compliant, replace the interior floor covering and to add an ADA compliant ramp to the south entrance of the church.”

The goal of the repairs was to add life back into the church and give it another 100-year run.

“In November 2013, the church launched its ‘Second Century Restoration’ capital campaign with the goal to raise $1,650,000, which included the organ repair,” Ventura said. “The Second Century Restoration committee commenced the Capital Campaign at the same time. By the spring of 2016 the Second Century Restoration Funding Campaign was successfully completed. The final construction punch list was completed during the summer of 2016.”

Ventura said another reason the restoration was so important is because the church has a lot of older members.

“They live on fixed incomes and so raising $1.6 million was a big deal,” he said.