St. Patrick Church turning old school into social center
CHARLESTON—St. Patrick Church’s historic school is about to be filled with the breath of new life.
The building, which dates back to 1930, is getting a complete overhaul to turn it into a state-of-the-art facility that will house church offices, a parish social center, and space for the College of Charleston’s campus ministry, said Father Henry Kulah, pastor.
“Everybody has great excitement for this project,” he said.
The first step toward renovations took place on May 19, when Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass at the church and participated in a groundbreaking ceremony.
Joan Mack, parishioner, said breaking ground was symbolic of the church and school entering a new phase in its history. Originally, the group wanted to enter the building and smash some of the drywall as part of the kickoff ceremony, but it has been closed for years and has no electricity.
After Mass, a large number of parishioners and friends gathered outside to witness the official blessing by Bishop Guglielmone and Father Kulah. They were then joined by members of the project planning committee to turn up some soil near the building, signaling the start of the renovation, Mack said.
Plans call for retaining the exterior walls of the historic building, while gutting the interior. The floor plan will be com-pletely reconfigured and the facility will be brought up to date with all the latest technology.
In the finished product, church offices will be located on the first floor, while the second floor will serve as a social hall and kitchen, plus remain a home to campus ministry.
Father Kulah said they consider the College of Charleston an extension of the parish and the students will always be welcome.
Currently, St. Patrick holds its social functions at Figaro Hall, which is in a separate building about a block from the church. The pastor said it isn’t conducive for his older parishioners to walk that distance, especially in inclement weather, and they are looking forward to ample parking right in the church lot.
Renovations should be completed by the end of the year, Mack said, with an estimated cost of $1.2 million dollars. Fundraising projects are being planned to help finance the new parish hall.
Father Joseph O’Brien was appointed to St. Patrick in 1929 and immediately began construction of a parish school. An education program started by Bishop Emmet Walsh that year made it possible for St. Patrick School to open for students at the start of fall term in 1930.
Miscellany photos/Doug Deas