Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Old Convent Getting New Life at St. Paul's; after a Renovation, the Structure Is Housing More Books and an Expanded Computer Lab

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Old Convent Getting New Life at St. Paul's; after a Renovation, the Structure Is Housing More Books and an Expanded Computer Lab

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

For 70 years, the beige brick convent housed the Sisters of St. Joseph. Then it served as a home for student teachers from the University of Notre Dame.

Most recently, the convent was used for storage. Now, after a $285,000 renovation, it's housing books and computers.

St. Paul's Catholic Church in Riverside has converted the first floor of its two-story convent into a library and computer center for its parish school students.

"The building was falling into disrepair, and we didn't want to see that happen," said John Lippincott, the school's principal.

The renovation of the Forbes Street convent began in August. The Rev. Thomas Sullivan, St. Paul's pastor, will cut the ribbon after a 9 a.m. Mass Sunday.

In the next few months, the facility will have a special guest. Mayor John Peyton will read to students as part of his early literacy program.

The project brings new life to the convent while filling a vital need, Lippincott said. St. Paul's old computer lab on the third floor of the school had only 12 computers. Just half the students in a class could use it at a time.

The new lab in the convent's former music room has 28 computers that were bought by a parishioner.

"Now we can do our research and don't have to be separated as a class," said Megan Hugo, an eighth-grader. "We have all this new technology to help with our homework."

Ian Wood, another eighth-grader, agreed, saying he was eager to start using the new lab.

"There weren't enough computers before, and most of the time some weren't working," the 13-year-old said. "We had only one printer, and it was iffy."

After the school's library was turned into a classroom two years ago, the books had to be put in storage while the librarian moved from room to room, he said. Now the books are displayed on shelves in a light-filled cream and slate-blue room with matching blue chairs.

"It's so cheerful and up to date," said Jean Tepas, who worked on the project. …

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