St. Charles Museum and Archives
“Don’t trash the school’s history – Send us your memorabilia!”
The St. Charles Alumni & Development Office encourages graduates of St. Charles, spouses, and parents to send school and college memorabilia to a loving and safe home at the school. Items will be cared for in either the 4th floor St. Charles Archive Room or the St. Charles Museum located in the school’s “Tower Room.”
St. Charles is looking for items such as athletic and stage programs, school rings, Carolian student newspapers, athletic apparel, school-related photographs, personal photographs, diplomas, and copies of Behind Those Arches and Spectrum yearbooks. NOTHING IS TOO NEW, OLD, OR INSIGNIFICANT!!! Contact alumni director Louis J. Fabro ’83 by phone at 614-252-9288 ext. 21 or by e-mail at [email protected] about items or mail them to the school ” Attention: Memorabilia.”
St. Charles Museum Now a Reality
Many of St. Charles’ oldest artifacts, such as furniture, books, and artwork, have been lost, broken, or thrown away over time. Memorabilia gets discarded as alumni move on to college, memories are lost when alumni pass away, and expansions bring physical changes to our campus. And with time vital pieces of the St. Charles story are hopelessly lost.
Years before an intense effort was undertaken to create a repository in which to assemble, protect, and showcase tangible items that have accompanied St. Charles faculty, staff, and students during the school’s 84 years.
After spending several years searching out and collecting historical items related to times past at St. Charles Preparatory School and St. Charles Borromeo College, alumni director Louis J. Fabro ’83 has created a fitting place to showcase them: The St. Charles Museum. Located in the “Tower Room” of the school’s Main Building, it is an ideal museum space because of its high vaulted ceiling, huge empty walls and plenty of floor space.
The room became vacant when the school band program moved to the Student Service’s Center’s Monsignor F. Thomas Gallen Music Room in 2007. At the time Fabro was storing memorabilia and artifacts in the newly-created St. Charles Archive Room on the Main Building’s fourth floor. But when the unique “Tower Room” space became available, he knew that it was just the space to help show off many of these items in a more spectacular setting.
The “Tower Room,” which is only accessible via a narrow staircase, has served an assortment of purposes over the years: as an activity room for college seminarians, a teacher’s lounge, and even as a gallery space of former faculty member Father Harold Schneider in the early 80s.
Fabro initiated a building project and labor “campaign” to attract the support of the Cardinal community. Thanks to the special generosity of alumnus Father Charles Griffin ’47, Louis has been able to create something in which he thinks all alumni, supporters and students of St. Charles can take great pride.
In 2008, Fr. Griffin, a retired priest from the Chillicothe area, presented the school with a generous contribution of $2,500 for museum-related expenditures. In June, Fr. Griffin made a second donation of $2,500.
The space was painted by long-time maintenance staff members Jeff Broadnax and Archie Mills, and Stedman Flooring provided new carpeting. Fabro carried nearly every item up to the room, save for a 600-lbs. limestone slab that served as the top of the “Mary Altar” once located in the “Upper Chapel.” With help from Jeff and B.B Broadnax and former St. Charles student Jeff McKenna, the slab was maneuvered up to the room.
McKenna then proceeded to professionally reconstruct the beautiful marble and limestone altar, which serves as a focal point in the museum. The altar had been taken apart and stored away when the third-floor Seminarian’s (Upper) Chapel was converted to Holy Angels Library in 1993.
Fabro set about organizing and setting up displays, only to take them down and rework them over and over again. The final result is something of which he says he could not be more proud. Next up for the museum is to have special track lighting installed to highlight its banners, jackets, athletic jerseys and various pieces of priestly attire.
One very special piece of art, a large half-moon shaped sheet of metal painted with the Madonna and Child, is mounted high on one wall surrounded by the Stations of the Cross from the former Seminarian’s (Upper) Chapel. It used to hang over the entryway of the Mother of Mercy Chapel. Also added were athletic championship banners that had until recently hung in the Gymnasium.
Nearly all of the furniture items collected by Fabro now serve to display museum items. They include four-tiered glass fronted book cases, large pedestals, long wooden laboratory tables–even two card tables and a dice table from past Monte Carlo Weekends have been incorporated as a way to honor a role they played in the early 70s in helping rescue the school and in keeping the school financially viable.
Fabro’s “inspiration and role model” has been Father Kevin Lutz, pastor of Holy Family parish, and creator of the world-renowned Jubilee Museum at Holy Family. After seeing the museum’s beautiful artwork and theme rooms, Fabro got the idea to create a special repository at St. Charles. One of the rooms Fabro saw was one created by alumni of and dedicated to the former rival all-boys school: Aquinas College High School.
Fr. Lutz provided insight and knowledge into creating these spaces and introduced former St. Charles student, Jeff McKenna to Fabro.
Louis is excited to accept any type of St. Charles-related historical items to show in the Museum or preserve in the St. Charles Archive Room (which remains intact as a repository for the photos, publications and items that are not in the museum.). Fabro conducts public and private tours of both spaces upon request. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 614-252-9288 ext. 21.
The St. Charles Archive: Preserving our School’s History
In 2006, Alumni Director Louis J. Fabro ’83 finished creating a special repository to preserve the school’s history: The St. Charles Archive Room.
The original work to save the school’s history was undertaken by Msgr. F. Thomas Gallen ’40 during his years on staff at St. Charles. Msgr. Gallen, who lived at the school for nearly 60 years, helped gather and save much of what exists today of the school’s history in two small rooms on the Main Building’s fourth floor.
The Archive Project was initiated in 2004 thanks to alumni Homer Beard ’46 and Colby Grimes ’46 along with Katy Paolini, who helped Fabro get started on its creation.
Most of this collection consists of photographs, an assortment of 16 mm film reels of sporting events, theatre posters, school-related publications, assorted materials, and some artifacts. A large collection of books that were saved from the library during the 1959 flood were moved to the choir loft of the former Seminarian’s (Upper) Chapel to create the St. Charles Borromeo Library.
Particularly important are the copies of the school newspaper the Carolian, artifacts associated with Coach Jack Ryan, and materials gathered for use in the school’s history book. This collection, however, does not contain a full accounting of the school’s history.
Ultimately, the goal is to establish dates of all photographs and identify by name those who are in the pictures. There will be an attempt to try and fill in missing time periods with yearbooks, additional photos, and other records.
Every picture will need to be scanned and placed into computer records. All memorabilia will need to be photographed and catalogued as well. The archive room will be stocked with the equipment and computers essential for these tasks. For the last three years 1984 alumnus Lee Hanna has been diligently working toward that end.
One plan is to create historical pages on the St. Charles website that can be accessed and appreciated from anywhere in the world via the internet. This will be accomplished with the help of the school’s website.
St. Charles Preparatory School’s heritage now will help strengthen the future of the school in years to come.