The original St. Rose Church, which survived the 1906 earthquake and stood for decades at the center of Santa Rosa's Roman Catholic community, has been closed and walled off for more than two decades due to concerns about its structural soundness.

Built in 1900, the rough-hewn-stone, Gothic-style church was the first stone structure constructed in the city.

The stonemason was one of a small group of Italian immigrant stone cutters who fashioned blocks of basalt extracted from quarries east of the city in and around what is now Annadel State Park.

For the first half of the 20th century, St. Rose was the sole place that Catholic parishioners gathered for worship in the city. Today, Santa Rosa has five Catholic churches.

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake prompted a review of older structures in the Diocese of Santa Rosa. The old stone wing at St. Rose was deemed structurally unsound and closed about 1992.

Its B Street entrance remains closed by metal security gates. Henry said the shoring up of the building will take into account the historic nature of the building and the neighborhood.

A feasibility study was conducted to determine whether St. Rose parishioners would be willing to fund the project. He said the report concluded they were.

"The parish is behind us. The $2 million is doable as a parish," he said.

Depending on the funding, the parish could look to the outside community and other funding venues for the second phase, he said.

"How can we expect the community to be on board if we are not?" he said.

The first phase would include a hard push in the next four months, then a five-year period to collect the pledges, he said.

The parish council meets again next month to plan further progress.

(You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or