CULLMAN – After a year of preparation, the work to restore the St. Bernard Library has begun. The final design was presented by Hendon and Huckestein Architectural firm of Birmingham, Ala., and was accepted in late summer. Abbot Cletus Meagher, O.S.B., of St. Bernard signed the contractual agreement with Eidson and Associates of Cullman, who will serve as the General Contractors for the project.
The Heidrich Library facility has seen only limited use since 1985. Due to government regulations requiring the removal of asbestos from secondary schools, portions of the ceilings, floors, and walls were removed. In the following years, it was variously used as a theater and as an assembly for church services; however, lacking the funds for renovation, the facility was closed and secured until the opportunity presented itself to make it operational again.
The building is now at the threshold of a new beginning. The restoration, which is now underway, will bring together the archives and holdings of both libraries of St. Bernard Abbey and St. Bernard Preparatory School into a modern environment complete with the latest technology. In addition, the classrooms located on the mezzanine and top floor of the building will provide much-needed space and be equipped with the latest technology that is essential for the education of today’s young people. The complete renovation of the 32,000 square foot building will include a new roof, HVAC system, plumbing, windows, elevator and electrical system.
The renovation comes none too soon. Given the growth in St. Bernard Preparatory School, which grew by 17% for the current academic year, the renovation will provide space for archival holdings and display areas, a circulation library, a Great Room and circulation desk, boardroom and lounge, administrative offices and much needed classroom space. The master plan for the campus calls for the renovated facility to be named The Center for Liberal Arts, which will include the holdings of the Heidrich Library. The renovation is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2016 and be fully operational for the 2016-17 academic year.
Abbot Cletus noted that “This renovation project will breathe new life into the entire campus and will prove useful to all the St. Bernard Family –the monks, students, faculty, alumni and friends. A good library is the heartbeat of any truly academic institution. The restoration and renewal of the St. Bernard Library is a further milestone in the process of breathing new life into buildings that had to be put on hold. This renovation project is dedicated to the memory of those who made it possible. I feel we are simply trying to be true to the legacy of love and learning that was handed down to us from our founding members and is now made new, brought to new life, by the generosity of our benefactors. For such a blessing we give thanks to God!”
The projected cost is $3.3 million dollars and is part of the campaign for St. Bernard’s $5.6 million dollar project.