ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Nuns respond with equanimity and humor to chaos of monastery renovation

The quiet, predictable pattern of daily living at St. Scholastica Monastery has been shattered -- and will remain that way for the next seven months.

The quiet, predictable pattern of daily living at St. Scholastica Monastery has been shattered -- and will remain that way for the next seven months.
The Benedictine Sisters have opted for a major three-floor renovation of the building that was built in 1937 as Stanbrook Hall High School, a Catholic preparatory school for girls.
When Stanbrook closed in 1967 to make way for the then new Duluth Cathedral High School, monastery residents and offices moved from Tower Hall to Stanbrook, but no significant changes were made in the structure of the former high school.
Ground-floor classrooms simply functioned as storage and common gathering rooms; first-floor offices became monastery offices; second-floor classrooms became assisted living facilities for aging or infirm sisters. Eventually, third and fourth floors were remodeled into living areas for sisters, but until this year, the rest of the building remained in a "make-do" mode.
Now, LHB Architects and Engineers and the Max Gray Construction Company of Hibbing have taken on the challenge of converting a school into an attractive and functional administrative center for some 150 sisters.
As the workmen begin the task, the sisters are witnessing -- a bit sadly -- the demolition of familiar walls and floors; the sale of hardware and houseware, including even windows and door frames; and the shifting and sharing of space.
Most notable among the last changes has been a move to vacate the monastery dining room, relocating it to the garage. (Sister Melanie Gagne has won first prize in an in-house contest to choose a name for the temporary dining area with her entry of "The Pillars.")
{IMG2}
The total renovation project is scheduled for completion by Dec. 15. The monastery goal is to have everyone resettled and "at home" before Christmas.
The assisted living floor will include large bedrooms and a more spacious chapel and dining room, as well as an all-seasons porch overlooking the monastery grounds. Monastery archives will be housed on the ground floor in a room especially equipped for long-term document storage.
Common areas will be expanded and designed for more efficient use. Heating, lighting and plumbing systems will all be improved as necessary and updated to meet current building codes.
Throughout the entire monastery, ease of access will be a primary focus, as will the accommodation and comfort of visitors. All in all, next Christmas at the monastery will prove not only merry, but exciting as well, when the sisters open the gift of a newly remodeled building.

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.