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Catholic church’s terra-cotta metal roof follows Northern Italy styling

At a time when many churches are facing declining attendance, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Hartland, Wis., was bursting at the seams when its leaders determined a new, larger home was needed to meet its growing parish’s needs. Dedicated in April 2024, the completed structure draws on traditional Northern Italian church design with its terra cotta-tone roof. Though, in this case it’s formed using metal roof panels instead of ceramic tiles, its pink and gold tones are hallmarks of that architectural style – and the metal panels’ cleaner lines nod to today’s more contemporary preferences.

The St. Charles parish has grown along with the town of Hartland. Though its population is still a relatively small 10,443, that 2024 figure is up by almost 10% since the 2020 census. It’s close enough to Milwaukee for daily commuting yet retains a smalltown feel. The church is a prominent participant in the community, sponsoring a popular annual carnival and serving as spiritual home to 2,500 local families, more than a quarter of Hartland’s residents.

Only 750 parishioners could fit in the previous church (now being repurposed for other parish uses), while the new sanctuary can accommodate up to 1,000. And those worshippers now gather in an interior space that features a mix of historic and new stained-glass windows along with painted frescoes and ceiling medallions highly reminiscent of the homeland of its patron saint, once the archbishop of Milan.

The exterior architecture also follows classic Northern Italy church massing, with a classic campanile-style bell tower at one end balanced by a small chapel extending at the rear. Designers with Milwaukee-based Zimmerman Architectural Studios, working with the installation team from Alois Roofing & Sheet Metal of West Allis, Wis., selected Petersen to supply the PAC-CLAD standing-seam metal roof panels that help define the varied spaces from the outside.

The plans called for 20,500 sq. ft. of Petersen’s Snap-Clad 24-gauge steel panels in the company’s Terra Cotta finish to cover the majority of the roof. Another 3,000 sq. ft. of Snap-Clad panels in a Custom Gold finish top the cupola and bell tower, highlighting these architectural features. These panels offer architects and owners both beauty and durability, with a broad range of standard and custom finishes along with a continuously interlocked seam and a 35-year, non-prorated finish warranty ensuring decades of exceptional performance.