Composite Slate Accents Soaring Steeple

The century-old steeple atop St. Paul’s church in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, a part of the Parishes on the Prairie area Catholic Community, has been reborn. After an extensive restoration effort, it stands proudly atop the parish that 850 families call home.

Originally built of real slate and metal, time and weather had damaged the steeple. Patchwork repairs were no longer working. Existing metal was rusting and beginning to fail. Leaks were occurring and a full restoration was needed.

That’s when the parish hired Sentra-Sota Sheet Metal Inc. to tackle the massive project. Involved in architectural sheet metal since 1982, the business was ready for the challenge.

Synthetic Slate Steeple Restoration

The first thing the team at Sentra-Sota did was consult with Terry Pogatchnik, owner of Pogatchnik Building Restoration. A local tuckpointer who had done repair work on the steeple previously, Terry had a recommendation. Ditch the heavy, real slate. Instead, use lighter weight and long-lasting DaVinci Roofscapes composite slate.

“I installed DaVinci slate years ago in a high-end residential project,” says Pogatchnik. “It looks great and has a natural slate appearance. Aesthetically, I think the DaVinci material is a good modern material that can work well in the steeple project. It keeps the historical look and is easier to work with than real slate.”

The Sentra-Sota team liked the idea, and so did Adam Saltmarsh, Director of Operations for Parishes on the Prairie in Sauk Centre. “There are many reasons we decided to use the DaVinci products,” says Saltmarsh. “They came highly recommended by other parishes that have used them on projects.”

“The features and benefits of the DaVinci composite slate products are very impressive,” Saltmarsh continues. “There’s the aesthetic appeal and how they mimic the look of natural slate tiles. Match that with the durability of the tiles and the lightweight aspects, which are big winners for this steeple project. Then we considered the minimal maintenance that will be needed, plus the warranty. When we added in factors like the fire resistancy, cost effectiveness and the environmental considerations of the product, we knew we had a great solution.”

Skilled Men at Work — 135 Feet in the Sky

The steeple atop St. Paul’s church was meticulously restored and topped with DaVinci Single-Width Slate. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

With the decision made to use DaVinci Single-Width Slate in a Slate Gray color on the steeple, the Sentra-Sota team got to work. Shop Foreman Mike Witte handled the detailed fabrication work for the steeple. Together with Journeyman Sheetmetal Foreman Ben Woitalla, the two worked hand-in-hand to replicate the existing profiles on the steeple. Then Woitalla and Fourth-Year Apprentice Jeremy Thene installed the completed pieces, all while working 135 feet above the ground in a boom lift.

“These men installed both the DaVinci product and the metal accents,” says Jeff Popp, vice president/project manager at Sentra-Sota. “All the metal work is Holcim/Elevate in a sandstone color, 24-gauge prefinished metal. It was all custom made and formed in our shop. Then it was transferred over and installed on the steeple.”

“Ben reports that the DaVinci product was very easy to cut and install,” Popp notes. “Even with different roof pitches he was able to keep everything aligned. The result is simply incredible. Our entire team is proud of how this finished steeple looks.”

A Soaring Success

A little closer to ground, once the synthetic slate steeple restoration was finished, the Sentra-Sota team was asked to redo the roof on a side entrance to the church. Falling tiles were making this area a hazard, so the same DaVinci Single-Width Slate composite roofing was added to this entryway.

“I hope we can do the whole church with DaVinci products soon,” says Saltmarsh. “In the meantime, the steeple looks just great. The Sentra-Sota crew was amazing to work with. They were friendly and professional. I get so many compliments from parishioners about the quality of work on the steeple. Everyone’s exceptionally happy with their work.”

As for Pogatchnik, who got the ball rolling with his DaVinci product recommendation, he’s pleased too. “True artisans worked on this steeple project,” says Pogatchnik. “I’m glad I can say I played a small role in this project by recommending the right product for this beautiful steeple.”


Roofing Contractor: Sentra-Sota Sheet Metal Inc., Waite Park, Minnesota,


Synthetic Slate: Single-Width Slate, DaVinci Roofscapes,

Metal: 24-gauge prefinished metal, Holcim/Elevate,

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