St. Stephen’s history |

St. Stephen’s history

Dennis Webb

St. Stephen’s Catholic Church was built in the early 1940s, making the building more than a half-century old, enough to merit possible historical designation.

Part of its historical architectural interest derives from the fact that it was built with native red sandstone from the Fryingpan Valley, as was the Hot Springs Pool building.

According to research by real estate agent Chris McGovern, it was designed by Denver architect John K. Monroe. It was built by church members under the leadership of Father Clarence Kessler.

Among the historical tidbits McGovern has come across is that Kessler used to keep pet monkeys in the church rectory.

The main level of the church seats 250 people under an open beam, mission-style ceiling. The main level has a traditional cruciform, or cross-shaped, layout, with a sacristy area and two foyers, one described as a Romanesque entry.

Church member Bob Zanella notes that buttresses on either side of the church were added on, perhaps in the late 1940s, for structural reasons. The original church was top-heavy because it had a Spanish-tile roof, and began leaning to the north, said Zanella.

Holes were dug to bedrock, pillars poured, and the buttresses built, and the roof was replaced, he said.

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