St. Stanislaus College on Tuesday began the process to demolish two stormed-damaged historic buildings on its campus.
The Bay St. Louis City Council, on the recommendation of the Historical Preservation Commission, recently approved the plan to remove two buildings on the campus that were damaged in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Old Gym Building and the Chapel Building.
“We came to this decision after many years of discussions and deliberations about these two buildings, which represent so many memories for our alumni and community,” said Brother Barry Landry, S.C., president of Saint Stanislaus. “We believe this decision is best for our school campus, our current and prospective students, and the future success of the school. The reality is that these facilities pose significant safety concerns for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, are expensive to maintain and insure, and are cost prohibitive to salvage.”
The two buildings were built in 1923 and 1930, respectively. The Old Gym held an auditorium and a basketball gym. The Chapel Building was the site for school Masses, convocations and ceremonies, and housed the library on the first floor. Both were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Afterward, their roofs were replaced but they were never fully repaired or put into use again.
“These two buildings are memorable. It is where many of us grew up,” said Joseph W. Gex II, a 1988 graduate of St. Stanislaus and the current alumni director. “But we must recognize that it is not the buildings that guide us today, but what we learned in them.”
Gex’s mother, Virginia, managed the library in the Chapel Building for 30 years. She was the librarian when Hurricane Katrina hit. “The library was not spared,” he said. “I visited campus with her a few days after the storm. She was stern faced and stoic, but you could see the hurt in her eyes. She said, ‘We will begin again.’”
“This decision to raze these two buildings is not a rejection of our history, and it is not done out of forgetfulness,” Brother Barry said. “On the contrary, we honor our history, and the lives, examples, and sacrifices of those on whose shoulders we stand each day by making, as they did, the difficult decisions to look forward with courage and trust.”
The land where the buildings were will be turned into green space and an improved entry to campus for students from the parking lot.