St. Paul's Catholic Church was built in 1962 at 9055 Atlin Dr. in the Mendenhall Valley. The church started in Juneau as a mission and became a parish in 1972.
The Rev. Michael Nash served at the church from 1979 to 1982 and remembers that about 350 families attended the church in 1980.
Currently, the church serves about 600 families, a 42 percent increase in 20 years.
As the parish grew, the size of the church became inadequate. The old church sat 250 people, and many had to stand in order to attend Mass.
The project to build a new church began in 1998 with the arrival of Rev. Tony Dummer, who describes himself as "a missionary with an engineering background." Before serving at St. Paul's, he had finished a school and three churches in Los Angeles that needed reconstructing after the 1994 earthquake.
Dummer also brought in a liturgical consultant from Albuquerque, N.M., to educate parishioners about keeping up with growth in the church.
In 1999, St. Paul's had a pledge drive that raised $1.1 million for a $2.2 million expansion project that would provide the space needed for the growing church population. A new church was designed by Jensen Yorba Lott architects and was built and ready for its dedication mass June 2, 2002.
The new church at the corner of Egan and Mendenhall Loop Road features seating for parishioners on three sides of the altar and includes an immersion baptismal font. The one-level church has a large lobby, a vesting sacristy, a Blessed Sacrament chapel, a day chapel looking into a prayer garden, and storage.
The old church's future is uncertain, but it may be used as a center for youth.