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College gratefully acknowledges acquisition of three monastic buildings

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December 8, 2015

Monastery buildings

Buildings to be purchased by the college include Caedmon (left), the Artisan Studio (center) and St. Wendelin (right).

College of Saint Benedict President Mary Dana Hinton and Saint Benedict's Monastery Prioress S. Michaela Hedican, OSB, announced the sale of three buildings from the monastery to the college December 8. The college is expected to take possession of the buildings in late spring or early summer of 2016 and begin a process of renovation to repurpose the space. 

The buildings include:

  • Caedmon, which was built in 1911 and has already seen its share of transition - it was once picked up and moved to a new location and has served many functions over the last 100+ years. The two-story building includes more than 6,000 square feet and was originally built as a horse barn. More recently, it has served as a residence.  
  • St. Wendelin, which was built in 1955 as the monastery's original butcher shop. The 4,500-square foot building has since provided both office and residential space. 
  • The Artisan Studio, which is a sprawling, 12,000-square foot space built in 1962. It was originally built as a carpenter shop and is in current use as an artisan studio for the sisters as well as lay artisans. 

One key objective these new spaces will allow the college to accomplish will be to relocate most administrative functions and convert the college's portions of the Main building into a cohesive and updated academic space. 

As a result of conversations that began on the Joint Planning Advisory Committee between college administrators and members of the monastic community, the college made the request to purchase these three specific buildings.

"They came to us asking if we would be willing to sell those buildings,"  Hedican explained. "Like the college, we're taking a look at the buildings we'll need and assessing our needs." 

The sisters, in their Benedictine tradition, brought the proposal to their community.

"Change is always hard and there were a lot of questions," Hedican said. "We want to work together to the best of our ability. We're not always necessarily going to be able to say yes but we will always thoroughly study and prayerfully reflect on the questions that come in." 

"We cannot overstate the significance of this gesture," Hinton emphasized. "It speaks volumes not only about the sisters' generosity and partnership, but about their ability to, once again, envision the powerful potential in each of us. They've acknowledged the evolving needs of the College of Saint Benedict, which continues to emerge as a national and international leader. They have placed their faith in us to make productive use of the spaces they have cherished for generations. And we will honor that faith." 

Meeting the college's growing needs for academic and administrative space through renovation rather than new construction has significant advantages.

"Historically we have been able to renovate space for 60 to 75 percent of the cost of building new space," explained Brad Sinn, the college's executive director of facilities. 

All three buildings are already on the centralized steam and power plant so there will be no need for any added expense or expansion of the community's carbon footprint because no additional utility infrastructure is needed. 

But beyond that, "Adaptive reuse of buildings (recycling buildings) is the ultimate expression of building green," Sinn said. "Our renovations will be sensitive to the historic character of the structures and the site, honor the history of the monastery, and be built to a LEED standard."