Millvale preservation group awarded funding for historic church improvements

Grant will help protect significant murals in St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church

MILLVALE, June 2 – A Millvale organization is receiving state funding thanks to a grant program through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, according to Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny.

The Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka is receiving $100,000 through the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program. The organization will use the money to improve the building envelope of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale. The church is home to one-of-a-kind murals painted by immigrant artist Maxo Vanka.

The grant will allow the SPMMMV to replace all copper flashing and gutters, provide new shingles, and provide historically appropriate solutions to prevent water infiltration in other areas. The next phase of mural conservation cannot occur until proper remediation is done.

“I’m pleased to see this state funding go toward such an important project in our area. It’s truly a nationally-recognized landmark.” said Innamorato. “There is so much history inside the St. Nicholas church that needs to be preserved, and I’m confident the money awarded to the SPMMMV through this program will do just that.”

Vanka was an artist who immigrated to the United States from Croatia in the 1930s. He befriended Father Albert Zagar, the Priest of the St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale, who invited Vanka to bring life to the church and paint unique murals on the church walls. Since its completion in 1941, the murals have remained on the church walls.

“The $100,000 Keystone Historic Preservation Grant -- the funding and acknowledgement of the critical nature of the project -- will be essential to the success of SPMMMV's efforts to raise the funds needed to improve the building envelope of the nationally significant St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale,” said Anna Doering, Executive Director of Vanka Murals. “By halting and preventing water infiltration into the building, we can move forward with the next phase of conservation and ensure the long-term preservation of the one-of-a-kind murals by immigrant artist Maxo Vanka.”

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission awarded $2.3 million to 54 projects across the state.