(COVINGTON, La.) — Room 0101, known as the Old Art Room or the Old Barbeque Pits to students, was demolished on Dec. 6, 2014, to make way for the new gym behind the theater on St. Paul’s School campus.
“(This area) is going to be center court,” Principal Trevor Watkins said. “It’s unfortunate that we have to lose it, but I think we all agree that we need a new gym.”
The building was torn down with an excavator by demolition contractors. Alumni and Development Director Al Nastasi and alumnus Keith Dufour ‘86, along with their sons, aided in additional building demolition needs.
“I talked with Principal Trevor Watkins (about the building), and he said he would be thrilled if someone could salvage the old pine wood in the roof. I’m pleased to have been joined by two students who aided in salvaging the bricks,” Nastasi said.
Sophomore August Latapie as well as another sophomore aided in brick salvaging with Nastasi’s and Dufour’s sons.
“Salvaging the bricks was a very nostalgic moment. I’m proud to make use of a piece of St. Paul’s history,” said Nastasi.
Room 0101, indeed, had been a part of St. Paul’s history. Starting in the 1940’s, 0101 had been an open-air pavilion where the boarding students could barbeque.
“It never was a part of a big operation,” retired Bro. Alfred Baltz, FSC, said. “It was used (for classroom space) because we lacked classrooms.”
Among its former tenants were the Marian Players, Aide to the Principal Merle Dooley, basketball head coach Phil Williams, and art teacher Gerald Ancar, and both Dooley and Ancar say that the room provided them with good times.
“We did art and yearbook out of that room…We would work (with yearbook) during the day, and sometimes, we would come at night,” Dooley said. “We’d order pizza and work on the book. It was a special environment. It helped me form great relationships with my students.”
Ancar said that the room, which he used during La Salle Hall’s renovation, played a very special part for the art program.
“We hung a lot of stuff off of the ceiling, so the room became a work of art in itself. We were limited in that room, with a smaller still-life (art piece). As an artist, you work with what you have. That’s what’s great about art. You can make the best of any situation,” Ancar said.
With 0101 now a heap of construction casualties and the new gym’s construction underway, the room is now forever a piece of St. Paul’s lore and history. The future is bright with the new gym’s coming, but those who experienced 0101 will never forget the times it brought.