Rocklin, a granite-mining hamlet that became a modern suburb, is restoring its history, one building at a time.
A prime example of that effort is St. Mary’s Chapel, which was restored in 2007 by the Rocklin Historical Society. Once an eyesore on Front Street, the former Roman Catholic Church, dedicated in 1883, underwent a complete makeover.
Bees were evicted from between the walls. The steeple, felled by weather and woodpeckers in 1937, was replaced. Air conditioning was installed, along with other modern treatments.
Today, 50 weddings and a handful of funerals take place each year in the gem on Front Street. At 2 p.m. Sunday, the Rev. Michael Dillon will speak at the house of worship, 5251 Front St., about the church and Rocklin’s original St. Mary’s of the Assumption parish.
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A $10 donation is requested to hear Dillon’s talk. The money will go toward the rebuilding of Rocklin’s original firehouse, which is now in the planning stages.
Dillon celebrated the last Mass at St. Mary’s on Dec. 23, 1983, according to an article by historical society member Gary Day. Rocklin outgrew the little church, which seats 80 people.
In the article, the priest remembered that summer services could be stifling.
“The windows had to be open to circulate air in the warm months,” said Dillon. “I spent a lot of time swatting horseflies trespassing at Mass from the neighbor’s corral.”
After the diocese sold the church, it passed through several hands before the building was threatened with demolition. The historical society acquired the building and moved the house of worship a short distance to its present location, where it was restored.
Today it is called “Old Saint Mary’s Chapel.” The historical society’s attention has now turned to reconstructing Rocklin’s original firehouse.
The firehouse, built around 1894, also housed city hall and the sheriff’s office. It served the town until it was torn down in the 1940s.
“We plan to reconstruct it based on the pictures we have,” Day said. “We will have some displays, but mainly we will have it so people can see what the city hall, firehouse and sheriff’s office once use to be. It was titled Hose Company Number 1.”