Following months of preparatory work, renovations have finally begun in St. Louis U. High’s chapel. With work expected to ramp up during the summer months, the administration now expects construction on the project to be complete by the end of January 2024.
Early stages of the renovation process began in January of this year, when construction crews removed the wooden platform which previously served as the chapel’s altar. Crews subsequently conducted preparatory demolitions throughout the third quarter, and began to undertake full renovation work around Spring Break.
Currently, much of the work is centered around securing the structural integrity and safety of the chapel and the new Campus Ministry, English, Math, and Social Studies offices that will sit in the current footprint of the chapel. Already, crews have conducted a hazardous materials abatement to safely remove asbestos from the construction site, and have poured concrete footings to ensure foundational support for columns to hold up the second floor offices.
However, the bulk of the renovation work will begin just after final exams are completed, as the north core of the building will be shut off for the summer—both floors will be inaccessible from the central corridor down to the J Wing.
During this time, more noticeable construction will begin in the hallways outside of the chapel, including the moving of banks of lockers and the placement of new doors to the chapel space. Major construction of the new Campus Ministry and department offices will also commence over the summer.
Currently, this major work is projected to be completed by Aug. 7 at the latest, ensuring that the northern half of the main school building will be open for the start of next school year. Renovation work will still continue into the school year, but it is intended to be solely inside of the chapel itself.
“We’ve given them a pretty hard deadline, that we cannot delay the start of school,” said Director of Campus Ministry Matt Stewart, SJ. “We work really hard to develop a school calendar that has the right amount of school days, all that kind of stuff. So we don’t want to mess with that.”
With recent progress considered, Stewart expressed optimism regarding the timeline of the project. When first announced earlier this year, Spring Break 2024 was said to be the intended completion date; that has since been moved ahead nearly two months to the end of January. However, Stewart was quick to note that any possible delay in the chapel’s reopening would be easily dealt with, as the school could continue to use its temporary chapel located in the theater loge.
“What (the construction company) has told us is that the scheduled completion date is the end of January of ’24,” said Stewart. “But who knows what happens, right? Maybe they start doing something, and there’s a global pandemic that shuts things down, or more likely, they open up a wall and there’s something in there they’ve got to address and that delays things. The nice thing is, since we’ve already shut down the chapel, we have a solution to those problems. If we have to wait a little but to open the chapel back up, that’s okay.”
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