A Time to Renew our Home

In 1903, construction began on the Sisters' home, Ottilia Hall.  For over a century, the building has been in continuous use.  Now, although well-maintained over the years, Ottilia Hall is in need of significant updating and repair to make it safe and accessible for the Sisters and more efficient in its operation. Much of the original plumbing is still in use, and electrical and mechanical systems are so outdated that they will not support modern heating and air conditioning.  These aging systems require continual repair and have become a significant drain on Community resources.  Patchwork fixes to outdated systems are no longer feasible or wise.

Ottilia Hall is the original Monastery building and is of historical and architectural significance. With the assistance of architectural and engineering experts, the Sisters seriously examined whether to demolish it and replace it with a smaller building elsewhere on campus or to renovate the original structure. The study proved that the first option would be more expensive and would not provide the necessary connections to other portions of the existing Monastery such as the chapel, the heart of the Sisters' life in community. In addition, that option would lose the historic and most visible symbol of the Order's presence in Cullman. 

After several years of prayerful planning and extensive consultation with architectural, engineering, and financial experts, a detailed Master Plan has been developed and a Capital Campaign initiated.  The Master Plan is structured in three phases.  Phase I concentrates on Ottilia Hall, the residence of the Sisters. In addition to updating the Sisters' living quarters, plans include installing an elevator that serves all floors of the Monastery, adding another stairway to meet fire codes, moving the Sisters' infirmary to Ottilia Hall, converting the former Sacred Heart Academy auditorium into the Sisters' dining room, and adding a new centralized kitchen that will serve both the Sister residents and Retreat Center guests

By replacing the current plumbing, installing an HVAC system, fire alarms, and sprinkler system, which they never had, the Sisters will employ energy-efficient systems that demonstrate their concern for the environment.

 

Embracing Simplicity and Stewardship

The overall project will reduce the square footage of the Monastery operation from its current 107,000 square feet to 76,100 square feet, a reduction equal to the footprint of 15 new homes. The downsizing and addition of efficient and environmentally-sensitive mechanical systems should reduce the operating costs of the Monastery and provide the Sisters and guests with a safer and more pleasant environment.

In each phase of the overall project the architects and contractors have shown how they plan to maximize reuse of current building materials wherever possible, install water-conserving plumbing fixtures, add thermal insulation and storm windows, and manage storm water in responsible ways.

One other cost-saving factor reflects the Sisters' decision not to include private baths for themselves. Rather, they chose to renovate and upgrade the current bath facilities. In the new configuration, Sisters' will share lavatory facilities suitable to their ages and privacy needs.

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