Majority of St. Francis Convent Buildings to Be Demolished

August 1, 2017

By Katherine Keller

Buildings shown in red will be demolished. Buildings that will not be demolished on the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi Campus, 3195 S. Superior St., in St. Francis, Wis.: 1.(St. Francis Chapel); 2. (Troubadour Meeting Room); 3. (Juniper Court); 4. (Canticle Court). Buildings that will be demolished: 5. (Marian Center/Loretto and Rosary Halls and Clare Wing); 6. (Power House); 7. (Motherhouse); 8. (St. Elizabeth)

Demolition of the Marian Center for Nonprofits buildings has begun. The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, who own the convent campus, will build a new convent at the site, 3195 S. Superior St.

Spokesperson Jean Merry said Groth Group of Milwaukee was selected to design the new facility that will provide living quarters for 80 sisters and include a kitchen and dining room. The motherhouse offices will also be moved to the new building. A convent’s motherhouse is often the founding building or main location of a religious order.

The century-old Marian Center buildings that once housed St. Mary’s Academy and St. Clare College presented mounting unsustainable maintenance costs and no longer met the aging sisters’ basic health and safety needs.


Loretto Hall was built in 1904 as a Catholic high school for girls. The school closed in 1991. It was never converted to a coed high school program. —Photo Katherine Keller

After St. Mary’s Academy closed, the center was created to preserve the legacy of the three connected structures, Loretto Hall, Rosary Hall, and Clare Wing, and provide affordable rent to nonprofits for office and studio space. According to the center’s website, “Loretto Hall was constructed in 1904 as St. Mary’s Institute, a high school for young women. Expansions in 1931 and 1935 created Rosary Hall and Clare Wing to allow for the development of St. Clare College in 1937.”

Five years ago the sisters partnered with Milwaukee-based developer Cardinal Capital Management, Inc. to redevelop the Marian Center for Nonprofits into 44 affordable apartments. The plans for the $10 million project were scuttled when the partners were unable to secure sufficient financing.

Currently, Merry said, 40 sisters live in small rooms, inadequate for eldercare, on the third and fourth floors of another building that also will be demolished.

Read past coverage here and here.

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2 Comments on "Majority of St. Francis Convent Buildings to Be Demolished"

  1. Lois Sommers Barutha SMA 1958 on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 12:00 pm 

    With the most fond memories I am very sad to see my high school demolished. I know it needed to be done but very sad none the less. As well said by my classmate Joyce Schultz Cupertino, “even though the buildings are gone. We will always be loyal to you SMA”.
    With a very sad heart,
    Lois Sommers Barutha 1958

  2. Teresa (Dillon ) Skiba on Tue, 22nd Aug 2017 12:05 pm 

    I am sorry to see the Convent and school go, but especially the Convent. Many good memories there. I still love what my name was, Sr . Terese Marie, as novice, when I left.I have no regrets. Being there or leaving.

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