Guesthouse – St. John’s Abbey

Abbey Guesthouse, 2007
Abbey Guesthouse, 2007 (click thumbnail for larger image)

Below is an outline Fr. Geoffrey Fecht used for a presentation to the SJU Administrative Assembly on November 8, 2006, Q264, which was followed by tours of the as-yet unfinished Guest House.

1.  The Abbey Guesthouse has been in the works, one might say, since shortly after Abbot Jerome Theisen’s election in 1979.  Other abbots had talked about it, but it wasn’t really until Abbot Jerome that something more serious began to take shape.

2.  In 1998, Abbot Timothy put together a program committee and serious work on the project began.

3.  Abbot John continued the process and also involved himself in the all important fund-raising effort, which was spear-headed by Br. Dietrich and Institutional Advancement.

4.  It was determined that this abbey enterprise would be a place of spiritual respite, a place for people to come for spiritual renewal.  Not a hotel/not a monastery for lay people.

5.  Past guests asked for three primary things:

                        a.  Close to church – pray with monks

                        b.  Close to parking

                        c.  Close to lake/woods/trails

6.  The architect was asked to consider this as we went through site selection, and was subsequently asked to make sure that the building fitted well within the family of buildings that were nearby, i.e., Abbey Church, Science Building, Prep Building, Library

                        a.  Layering, flashing, block coloring was intended to match the bell banner

7.  Review the site plan

                        a.  North exposure = back of building

                        b.  Grove of trees – unexcavated

                        c.  Water garden

8.  The Guesthouse has 30 rooms and suites.

9.  Two programs: guests and retreatants – it is also ecumenical

10.  As a consequence, Vincent James Associate Architects was presented the serious challenge of separating these two groups (guests/retreatants) within the building.

11.  Top floor: active guests: alumni, parents of students, families and friends of monks, guest speakers or performers, interviewees, regents, and the like – take note of the views from these rooms.  Each room is furnished by product that was made in our Woodworking Shop: desk, chairs, floor, bed, night stands, Saint John’s Crosses; Bible prints

12.  Lower floor: retreatants, people on a spiritual quest of some kind – view is more contemplative

13.  Middle floor: activities floor

14.  Channel Glass and Perforated Block

15.  Pavilion piece

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