The Cathedral Campus project involved an exercise in campus place making, resulting in a new administrative and religious center for the Diocese of Wheeling/Charleston.
The Catholic community of Wheeling was naturally focused on the Cathedral, constructed in 1926. While it occupies a prominent corner location in central Wheeling, much of the remainder of the block had been infilled with less-worthy structures. A key opportunity emerged when the original parish school next door—constructed in 1896—was closed.
The captivating redevelopment program that emerged led to the transfer of the main Curia offices from the cramped 1950s-era Chancery to the renovated historic school, a new bridge connecting the offices to the existing diocesan offices on the fourth floor of the adjacent high school, and the backfill of the Chancery building with the Diocesan archives.
To unify all of these elements in an urban way and establish a fitting entrance to the new Chancery, a nondescript 1930s addition to the historic school was demolished and a new addition containing a dramatic two-story lobby and event space was constructed. An intimate chapel and the Bishop’s office are located above the lobby. An enclosed porch was added to the historic Rectory, which, together with the Chancery entrance, frames the processional down to the new Cathedral plaza and reveals a completely unseen side of the Cathedral.
Using a contemporary yet historically sensitive approach, the new structures are integrated with the old and knitted with the landscape, creating a distinct sense of place by uncovering dramatic new spaces that are now public and accessible. Together with the new Mary garden opposite the Rectory, these “found” spaces establish new places of contemplation and celebration for the entire religious community.
– Rev. Msgr. Frederick P. Annie, V.G. Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston