Left, representatives from Miller-Valentine Group and CR Architecture + Design receive plaques of appreciation from the community; middle, Sister Ruth Ann Meyer shows off her new apartment; right, the finished library at Salem Heights.
There were plenty of smiles Sept. 26 as Precious Blood Sisters, employees and construction workers celebrated the completion of the Salem Heights repurposing project with prayer and fellowship. The community hosted contractors and sub-contractors involved in the project at an open house and reception. The event included tours of Salem Heights and a prayer service recognizing St. Joseph, the carpenter/builder, for the protection he has provided all those involved in the project.
The nearly 20-month project created 51 new apartments from 110 bedrooms and other areas in the Sisters’ central house in Trotwood. The 80,354-square-foot building at 4960 Salem Ave. is home to about 40 retired Precious Blood Sisters. The new apartments – which can accommodate more than 51 residents because six of the apartments have two bedrooms – feature complete kitchens, full bathrooms, updated wiring and plumbing, and more living space. Other areas of the building were remodeled as needed.
The project was designed by CR Architecture + Design. Miller Valentine Group was the general contractor.
Construction crews worked around the needs of the Sisters living in the building as the project progressed. Sisters were relocated in different parts of the building during the construction and some Sisters moved multiple times.
“The construction at Salem Heights over the past year and a half has been quite an experience for the Sister residents as well as for all the members of the Congregation,” said Sister Joyce Lehman, president. “The various contractors and subcontractors did their work diligently and with evident respect for the Sisters who remained living in the building while it was being repurposed.
“The project provides not only more living space for the Sisters who live here now or will do so in the next 10 or 15 years, but also makes the facility more attractive to lay people at some point in the future,” Sister Joyce added.
In addition to the apartments, the building includes a library, fitness area, beauty salon, nurse’s office and parlors. The adoration chapel was enlarged to accommodate more people and improve ventilation.
Sister Dianne (Daniel Marie) Skubby moved to Salem Heights from Cleveland last May. She enjoys the lifestyle and hospitality she’s seen at the central house, and her relatives jokingly ask how they can secure an apartment for themselves.
“I like it here. I like the nuns and routine. The (employees) are so kind,” she said. “It is so welcoming. It is a place I wanted to invite my family and friends to come and see.”
Converting the building to apartments adapted the central house to its fullest potential by creating larger living spaces, providing areas to care for the Sisters and maintaining a facility in which the congregation can continue its spirituality.
The decision to repurpose the building was made by the community during the 2011 Assembly and construction began in March 2012.
Story by Dave Eck; photos by Michelle Bodine