Purchase photos

Faithful facelift

7/25/2013

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

ELLIS -- It will be a bigger challenge for bats to get in the belfry of St. Mary Catholic Church in Ellis, since Home Steel Siding and Windows crew members replaced the church's bell tower louvers this week.

The last of four 14-foot tall by 7-foot wide stainless steel louvers, suspended from giant Hess Services cranes, was hoisted into place at approximately 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The louvers, designed by Chris Kingsley, Hays, replaced the church's century-old wooden ones atop the structure.

"I contacted some other companies to make these louvers, and I wasn't getting where I wanted to be and I mentioned to Chris, and he said, 'I'll build them,' " said

Tim Kingsley, owner of Home Steel Siding and Windows, and cousin of Chris Kingsley. "We got together and came up with a plan."

As he oversaw the project's progress from the parking lot of St. Mary on Wednesday afternoon, Tim Kingsley explained the crew's process.

"The wood was starting to deteriorate to the point where it wouldn't hold paint anymore," Tim Kingsley said, holding a chunk of the tower's original 1909 louver.

"We actually have spent quite a bit of time preparing the opening and now, it's just the finishing touches," Tim Kingsley said.

"It just takes a little bit of time to make it fit."

Once the new louvers are in place, screens will be added to keep birds, bats and other creatures out of the bell tower.

The deterioration of the former louvers was discovered by Father Richard Daise, pastor of St. Mary Parish.

"I have a little bit of Indiana Jones in me, and I crawled up in the bell tower and saw that the wooden louvers needed to be painted," he said.

After further investigation, though, Daise saw the extent of damage was greater than he originally thought.

It was decided that replacing the wooden louvers with stainless steel ones would be the best option. Ultimately, Daise said, his goal for the church is to see its historic architecture maintained.

"This was a beautiful church when I walked in," Daise said. "I want it to be as beautiful or more so when I walk out of here, whether it's tomorrow or 12 years from now."