Stanbrook Hall/St. Scholastica Monastery

Stanbrook Hall in 1938, photographer unknown. [Image: College of St. Scholastica]

1938 Stanbrook Hall | Architects: O’Meara, Hills & Quick  | 1200 Kenwood Ave. | Built: 1938 | Extant

Ten years after Tower Hall was finally complete, the College of St. Scholastica had run out of room. One solution to the overcrowding was the construction of three new buildings: an auditorium, a chapel, and a college preparatory high school and residence hall for girls. The high school was named Stanbrook Hall after a celebrated Benedictine abbey in England. The college hired St. Louis, Missouri, architects O’Meara, Hills & Quick, which had evolved from the same firm that put the final additions on Tower Hall in 1928.

Because the basalt quarry had been exhausted, Stanbrook Hall’s five stories were faced with granite from St. Cloud, Minnesota, and trimmed with white limestone, giving the relatively modern building a heavy feel and quality that connects it with Tower Hall. At the same time, its lighter-colored façade provides a contrast with its basalt neighbor. Sister Agnes Somers wrote that the building’s decorative scheme helps convey its original purpose of “educating young women in the Christian way of life.” Adornments include a cross above the gable over the main entrance façade, and carvings representing faith, hope, charity, mortification, and purity of heart. More symbols appear in a frieze that rests above the entry door, including a sunflower (obedience), butterfly (progress in goodness), wild rose (love of neighbor), daisy (sincerity), scales (justice), and a palm branch (fortitude). The carvings were executed by George Thrana—along with the carvings he made on the Chapel of Our Lady Queen of Peace, they were the last Thrana made before dying the following year of silicosis, often called “stone cutter’s disease.”

St. Scholastica archivist Sister Margaret Clark wrote the when it opened, the new facility contained classrooms, laboratories, offices, lounges, dining rooms, and “residential areas for high school boarders, aspirants, postulants, novices, and a number of Sisters.” Dorm rooms were on the fifth floor. Stanbrook Hall averaged 250 students a year, with 40 to 50 seniors graduating annually. Not all of the school’s students resided at Stanbrook, and many from Duluth’s wealthy families spent just one year at the school to prepare them for the exclusive boarding schools in the east.

After Duluth’s new Cathedral High School opened in 1963, enrollment at Stanbrook Hall declined, reduced to 150 students by 1967. It closed that year, after which the building was converted to the administrative offices of St. Scholastica Priory, which in 1996 became the home of the St. Scholastic Monastery.

As more and more Sisters retired, the Monastery began constructing more buildings to house them. This evolved into the 1980 Benedictine Health Center, built south of Stanbrook and open to both retired Sisters and laypeople, and the first of forty communities of the Benedictine Health System. Today it offers assisted living, independent senior apartments, memory care, and therapy.