Historic Nevada Church To Undergo Seismic Retrofit

VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. (AP) - One of Nevada's most historic churches will undergo a $2.1 million seismic retrofit intended to keep it from being destroyed by an earthquake.

Construction at St. Mary's in the Mountains Catholic Church in Virginia City will begin on Sept. 8 and continue for up to a year, said Mike Quilici of the Diocese of Reno.

Plans call for the church's walls to be shored up with concrete and its roof to be better secured.

"We want to stabilize the building, that's the main thing," Quilici told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

With its majestic spires and stained glass windows, the church is one of the most recognizable structures in the tourist town, about 20 miles southeast of Reno.

The church was first built in 1862 during the height of the Comstock mining boom and rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1875.

The improvements will be funded by private donations, a $500,000
grant from the National Park Service's Save America's Treasures
program and a $200,000 grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation.

Church member Virgil Bucchianeri, a former Storey County district attorney, said the church has 15 to 20 regular parishioners, but it draws scores of tourists, both for church services and the museum and gift shop.

Parishioners will move next door to St. Paul's Episcopal Church until the project is completed.

Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the U.S. behind California and Alaska. Reno's last major quake measured 6.1 on April 24, 1914.
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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-08-15-08 1436EDT


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