Campus Chapel Undergoes Major Renovation - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Campus Chapel Undergoes Major Renovation

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Viterbo University’s San Damiano Chapel was built in 1914. And after a century of use, the building is in need of some serious upgrades.

“It was in need of repair,” said Joel Skinner, Midwest Sales Director for Church Interiors Inc. “It had a lot of plaster problems, it needed to be painted, it needed new flooring. So basically they're completely gutting the interior and we're staring over.”

Construction started in May, and right now this historic building is in the midst of renovation. The improvements will hit everything from the exterior appearance of the building to the ambiance of the interior.

“I'm kind of ecstatic about  the transition that's about to occur,” said Emilio Alvarez, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at Viterbo University. “The chapel is a space where our community has gathered for lots of years and it's time to give it some attention, give it some love as well.”

Some of the major improvements include refurbishing the exterior of the building, restoring the interior with new paint and murals, and adding air conditioning. Something students have been wanting for years.  

“Before we had no air conditioning,” said Alvarez, “the summers were sometimes unbearable”

The stained glass windows are being restored, an elevator is being added for accessibility, and the seating is being upgraded and rearranged to give a warmer feel to the space and provide additional seats.

“We want to really make it a space where everyone is welcome to come,” said Alvarez. “And that they feel welcome and they feel like it's a home to them.”

And Alvarez said this is the essence of the project. To create a sanctuary for students.

“They love the community here,” said Alvarez. “They love the building. They love having a sacred space where they can get away from the hustle and bustle of life and kind of rejuvenate themselves... And that's why this renovation is important because it was a response to the students growing in that community.”

“I think it's going to be a beautiful overall look,” said Skinner. “I think the theme of it is “noble simplicity” and to try to get a bit closer to the San Damiano Chapel in Italy. And I think we're going to achieve that.”

The renovation costs 1.2 million dollars and will be completed by the end of August.

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