St. Francis Sisters of St. Francis Assisi plan new convent

December 1, 2016

By Katherine Keller

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi’s plans to construct a new convent would preserve two of the original buildings, as well the newer ones. The majority of the oldest buildings would be demolished. Building that would be preserved: Coral (St. Francis Chapel); Orange (Troubadour Meeting Room); Yellow (Juniper Court); Purple (Canticle Court). Buildings that would be demolished: Blue (Marian Center/Loretto and Rosary Halls and Clare Wing); Turquoise (Power House); Green (Motherhouse); Pink (St. Elizabeth)

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi’s plans to construct a new convent would preserve two of the original buildings, as well the newer ones. The majority of the oldest buildings would be demolished.
Buildings that would be preserved: Coral (St. Francis Chapel); Orange (Troubadour Meeting Room); Yellow (Juniper Court); Purple (Canticle Court).
Buildings that would be demolished: Blue (Marian Center/Loretto and Rosary Halls and Clare Wing); Turquoise (Power House); Green (Motherhouse); Pink (St. Elizabeth)

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi will build a new convent at the current site of the Marian Center for Nonprofits, 3195 S. Superior St.

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

Merry said, in an press release, that the century-old buildings that once housed St. Mary’s Academy and St. Clare College present mounting unsustainable maintenance costs and no longer meet the aging sisters’ basic health and safety needs. Currently 40 sisters live in small rooms, inadequate for elder care, on the third and fourth floors.

The sisters closed the Marian Center in May. The center was created, after St. Mary’s Academy closed, to preserve the legacy of Loretto Hall, Rosary Hall, and Clare wing, three connected structures. Former classrooms were converted to offices for nonprofit organizations. According to the center’s website, “Loretto Hall was constructed in 1904 as St. Mary’s Academy, 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.”

Four 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 were scuttled for the $10 million project when the partners were unable to secure sufficient financing.

The sisters have not yet sought the required permits and zoning approvals for the new convent from the city of St. Francis. A financial feasibility study is underway, Merry said.

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