Renovations at the National Shrine of the Little Flower and Carmelite Monastery
The historic Shrine and the connected Carmelite monastery, both dedicated in 1931, reveal severe damage, with large structural cracks and other deterioration caused by water infiltration. Reconstruction is needed to rectify these problems and preserve the beauty and integrity of these structures. An ongoing renovation project in course at the Basilica and the Carmelite monastery will lay the necessary foundation for the full restoration of the Basilica in the future.
Project objectives are to resolve the root causes: problems in the infastructure, particularly water infiltration and site drainage, and to prevent further building damage.
Recent Work Completed
The most recently completed phase of repairs, done in 2015, is the replacement of the monastery's main plumbing and sewer lines and the installation of a new sump pump, to help with water extraction. This work has made the monastery inhabitable once again for the community of Discalced Carmelite friars.
Between 2005 and 2007, the undercroft of the 11,000 square foot church floor plan was remodeled and refinished, with the addition of the St. Elias Adoration Chapel. The chapel, dedicated to silent prayer, opened for prayer and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2007.
An elevator was also installed with service to the basement, the main floor and the choir loft, along with a marble stairwell leading down from the narthex to the basement, and new restrooms. Along the hallway, along the north side interior of the undercroft, the "Celine painting" of St. Thérèse is displayed in a niche. A new entrance to the undercroft from the north the side of the Basilica includes a small plaza area, terraced on each side. A chapel foyer leads into the St. Elias Adoration Chapel, located under the tomb chapel. The costs these renovations came to $1.6 million. Funding of $800,000 was provided by the Abdo Family Trust. The other $800,000 came from private donations.
Plans are now being laid to begin work on the next crucial phase of addressing water infiltration in the entire perimeter of the conjoining structures of the Basilica, the monastery and the wing added to the monastery in 1955, known as the College Building, and the installation of new drainage systems.
Funds are needed for this phase of work, one of the largest and costliest phases of the project. A preliminary estimate for the total costs for these renovations to correct water infiltrations has been set at $4 million.
Currently, a thorough study is being conducted on the entire set of buildings to determine the precise causes of the dysfunction in their foundations, structures and roofs. Water infiltration will be addressed, starting with the stability of the soil and water flowing from underneath the foundation. The path of storm water as it distributes off the roof will be examined, along with the grading around the buidings to divert water away from the site, along with repairs to the leaking roof. These problems, which are the cause of the visible damages in the buildings, must be addressed and functional drainage systems devised to keep the recently renovated monastery plumbing from damage and to prevent further degradation in the historic structures.
Assesment will allow us to define the needs of the buildings more clearly and precisely. Once a complete picture of the existing situation is produced, then a plan for what needs to be done to rectify those problems is expected to be developed by March 2016, as well as a complete estimate of the costs for the work required.
Following those repairs, construction of a new floor slab in the monastery's first floor will restore functionality to the kitchen and dining area. That phase will be followed by the renovation of the monastery kitchen and recreation/ exercise/ laundry areas and plumbing updates in the restrooms of the 2nd and 3rd floors. This work is expected to continue through 2016 and into 2017, depending on the availability of funds.
Portions of these projects have been funded by the Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation, the Kenedy Memorial Foundation, the Scanlan Foundation, and the Stuart- Griffin-Perlitz Foundation, along with many generous individual donors. Your contributions to these renovations are urgently needed.
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