Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 11, 1999
Calgary St. Mary's School demolition delayed
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Calgary Catholic board recently voted to postpone the demolition of the old St. Mary's Girls School.
"This gives us more time and gives us hope," said Dianne Abbott, a 1969 St. Mary's graduate and spokesperson for Friends of St. Mary's.
The group strongly opposes demolition and is petitioning the Alberta government to declare the school an historic site.
In October trustees voted 4-3 to demolish the school in January rather than spend the $2 to $5 million it would cost to upgrade the building. Now trustees have postponed demolition until April.
"We are very happy and we are very optimistic now," Abbott told the WCR.
St. Mary's Girls School, located at 1916-2nd St. SW, was founded in 1909 by the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus and was the first Catholic school in the city.
The school has been vacant for the past four years. The school board has said no funds are available to restore or preserve it. But it is willing to consider alternate suggestions for the building as long as funds come from other sources.
If demolition goes ahead, the St. Mary's site may be turned into a parking lot and a green area for St. Monica's School across the street.
Not if Abbott and her eight-member group can help it. For the past two months, Friends of St. Mary's have circulated hundreds of petitions across the city. So far they have sent more than 600 petitions to the Alberta Legislature, asking the province to declare the school an historic site.
The group inspected the building in November and found it to be in "extremely good condition." It says the building is "structurally sound" and most of the required repairs are cosmetic.
"Since the school began in 1909 generations of Catholic families have passed through its doors. No other school represents the tradition of Catholic education in Calgary like St. Mary's does," said Abbott.
"This school should remain as a visible representation of the longevity of Catholic education and tangible evidence of the tradition."