Rocks, Rails & Ranches

Rocklin’s Saint Mary’s Chapel a landmark on Front Street

GPS coordinates: (N 38° 47.454’, W 121° 14.314’)
By: Gary Day, special to the Placer Herald
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Rocklin History Tour

This is the eighth installment of a 19-part series where Gary Day will take readers on a tour of Rocklin’s historic sites. You can find the sites yourself with a handy Rocklin History Tour booklet, available at the Rocklin History Museum, 3895 Rocklin Road. GPS coordinates were provided by Brian Ignaut. Short stories about Rocklin’s history are at

The Old Saint Mary’s Chapel is at 5251 Front St. It is the centerpiece of Heritage Park, which is a joint project of the city of Rocklin and the Rocklin Historical Society to beautify Rocklin’s railroad corridor.

The chapel was originally on an oak-framed lot about a quarter-mile south at 5420 Front St., dedicated there in 1883 by Gold Rush-era Bishop Joseph Alemany as Saint Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church.

The Catholics vacated Saint Mary’s in 1983 in favor of their current larger facilities, the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church on Granite Drive.

The Church of Religious Science, and later a Baptist congregation, used the church for services until the mid-1990s.

A successor owner donated Saint Mary’s to the society in 2005 and the society moved it to the park for restoration. The society opened Saint Mary’s in 2007, primarily for use as a non-denominational wedding chapel.

Woodpeckers and foul weather toppled Saint Mary’s steeple in 1937 and thieves ran off with the steeple bell. The restoration includes a replica of the 1937 steeple, but today’s bell is on loan from Rocklin’s Community Covenant Church. Each bride pulls the rope to toll the bell as she leaves the chapel after her wedding ceremony.

The all-granite spinning ball fountain on Saint Mary’s patio was funded with donations from Rocklin third-graders whose curriculum includes a study of Rocklin’s history.