St. James School expansion will be 'Georgian jewel'

February 20, 1997


Staff Writer

A $4.5 million building program under way at St. James School south of Hagerstown will expand the 180-student boarding school without changing its essential character, school officials say.

A $2 million building housing a new library, two science labs, a classroom and an archives room is under construction.

"It's going to be a small Georgian jewel of a building," said Father Stuart Dunnan, headmaster.

The new library will be roughly double the size of the old library, and will be able to accommodate about 60 students at a time. The library will hold 25,000 volumes and six computers.

Workers also are enlarging and renovating Kemp Hall, the oldest academic building on the campus, to serve as a student center to include a book store, recreation room, snack bar, mailboxes and administrative offices. That work will cost $750,000.


Next year, construction of a $1.1 million Georgian-style girls' dormitory will provide housing for 28 students and two faculty members. The school now has the capacity to board 22 girls.

The school last fall completed a $250,000 renovation to the infirmary, and Powell Hall, which houses the current library, will get a $200,000 face lift.

The library area will be converted to a study hall and computer lab. Two new classrooms will be added to the area formerly occupied by the study hall.

The school has raised $2.5 million toward the cost of the projects, Dunnan said.

Work on the library has "been pretty much overdue," he said.

Dunnan said computer technology has helped reduce the amount of space needed for the library. Information previously requiring books and shelf space can be delivered via CD-ROM and the Internet.

The need for new facilities also is related to a jump in enrollment from about 130 students five years ago to 180 now, Dunnan said.

Dunnan expects that figure to grow to 200 as the improvements are made, with 120 boys and 80 girls, and 120 boarders and 80 nonboarders.

"We don't want to become a large school," Dunnan said. "That's why people choose us."

Dunnan said the school will continue to provide a structured environment for students while introducing them to new experiences.

The private school, founded in 1842, is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and is open to students of all religions and nationalities. Day tuition is $9,800 a year and boarding tuition is $16,800 a year. The school offers instruction for students in seventh through 12th grades.

Tuition pays for two-thirds of operating costs, Dunnan said. Endowment income and annual contributions to the school cover the rest.

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