St. Charles College, in Grand Coteau, is one year into renovating their main building. The facility, is over 103 years old, and was overdue for maintenance . With the plumbing, pipers and water systems crumbling, Brother Larry Huck, Owner's Representative of Jesuits, said there was a major decision to be made.
"We have to invest in this building to renovate it totally or we have to access, are we going to stay in this building?."
They decided to stay, and the 15 million dollar project started. The project is funded by donations, St. Charles funds and state historical tax credits. Brother Huck said there have been no major bumps in their plan and they have been able to keep everything within their budget.
"We have a 103 year old building and we've been blessed and fortunate to keep that in budget."
It's been a dramatic transformation. Hallways have been turned into bedrooms, elevators has been added, and they are making room for technology. The dining room and kitchen in the north wing were completely gutted and rebuilt. Since the project is partially funded by state historical tax, it was important to keep some original aspects in place.
Novice Jesuit Brian Strassburger, said, "One of the things we take a lot of pride in here is its rich history and it's always been. The idea of this restoration was preserving that. It wasn't an idea of changing that. We didn't tear down the building and build it up from the ground, we took this building that had this tradition and history and we enriched it ."
The college is not only a school for novice Jesuits, but the grounds are open for spiritual retreats.
"They come here to get away from what they do, listen to God about what they are doing or where God is telling them and then they go back into their normal lives and take that with them, " Brother Huck said.
The retreats stopped when renovations started, but in the Spring of 2014, the projected completion date, retreats should begin again.
Father Anthony Ostini, Director of Spirituality Center said, "I've gotten letters and phone calls and messages from people saying they are really excited about being able to get back for retreat and the other programs we offer."
Not only will retreats start again, but for the first time the building will house elder retired Jesuits, as well as younger Jesuits.
Father Ostini said, "I think the younger men will be very edified, hearing the stories and living with the older Jesuits."
With just under 9 months to go, there is a certain amount of excitement for the Jesuits, to have their home and school completed and fully functional once again. Strassburger said he was excited and blessed to be able to see the grounds transform, and cannot wait for the end results.
"You will see, beautiful more comfortable building that's able to accommodate retreats better, novices Jesuits. It works better for those living here. "