Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

82-Year-Old St. Joseph Monastery in Tulsa Undergoes Renovation

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

82-Year-Old St. Joseph Monastery in Tulsa Undergoes Renovation

Article excerpt

Few buildings offer such a time-machine effect as St. Joseph Monastery, where from the foyer's 1905 Mason and Hamlin piano, grandfather clock and flowing terrazzo floors to the library's frontier journals and the guest rooms' antique desks, drawers and bedding, the Benedictine Sisters preserve founding elements of statehood and Tulsa's 82-year-old Monte Cassino School system.

But stepping inside their business offices, dining room or kitchen quickly brings guests back into the modern age, thanks to a sweeping renovation completed this summer by Freese Architecture and contractor Trigon Construction Management, both of Tulsa.

"Everything was done keeping in mind one of the Benedictine mottos is peace, and to incorporate that into the design," said Prioress Sister Christine Ereiser, a 24-year member of the order.

Architect Brian L. Freese recognized that need from his first gaze at the four-story building's elegant Tudor framing and beautiful stonework, which had not been created for the sisters.

"It had a low-scale institutional feel," he said with a frown. "It didn't feel like a monastery at all."

Using designs by architect Fritz Rodlich, Forner Construction Co. completed the English cottage structure at a 1928 cost of $150,000 (that's $1.9 million in constant dollars). For three decades the hilltop chateau just off 21st Street and Lewis Avenue served as a dormitory for young girls attending Monte Cassino, which the sisters founded and operated.

When they decided the campus no longer needed a boarding house, the nuns settled into the building, creating St. Joseph's Monastery in 1961. But the structure retained its dormitory character - a feeling Sister Christine remembers from when she joined the sisters in 1984.

"Do you see those arches?" she said, gazing down a vaulted hallway warmly illuminated by recessed lights. …

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