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College Purchases Franciscan Renewal Center

June 12, 2000

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    The 40-room Corbett House was designed by Pietro Belluschi for Harriet and Hamilton F. Corbett, in 1927. The Sisters of St. Francis purchased the site in 1942. The property sits across the street from the College.

Lewis & Clark grew appreciably over the summer with the purchase of the Franciscan Renewal Center from the College’s neighbors, the Sisters of St. Francis.

The 18.6-acre property with its 40-room Corbett House sits directly across the street from the south end of the College on Palatine Hill Road.

“This marks a significant new chapter in the history of the College,” notes Michael Mooney, president of Lewis & Clark.

The purchase adds 87,000 square feet in six buildings: Conference Center Building, refectory, office building, chapel, gymnasium and historic Corbett House. “We are pleased that Lewis & Clark is the new owner of our beautiful property,” says Sister Donna Fread.

“Throughout the years, we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the College, and we have been delighted to observe its commitment to preserving the environment.”

Over the years, Lewis & Clark leased space in the Franciscan Renewal Center and used its gym for classes and drama productions. In turn, the Sisters of St. Francis used the College’s buildings for provincial gatherings. More than 25 sisters have earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Lewis & Clark. And this fall, the College appointed Sister Loretta Schaff as adjunct Catholic chaplain to work with Catholic students and employees on campus. The Catholic Archdiocese is helping to fund the position.

The sisters will remain on the site through October. In the meantime, Lewis & Clark has filed a permit with the city of Portland to allow the College to use the property. Jane Atkinson, vice president and provost of the College, is heading a committee to integrate the new site with the rest of the campus.

“The College does not intend to expand its programs or enrollment,” Mooney emphasizes. “Initially, we plan to use the Franciscan Renewal Center for functions consistent with its historic uses.”

The College is considering projects that will restore the Corbett House, cultivate the historic gardens, host conferences and retreats, house overnight guests, provide teaching and office space for Lewis & Clark’s graduate school, create added meeting space in the Conference Center Building and refectory, and use the chapel for recitals and religious services.

“Beginning next spring, the property will provide vital temporary space for offices and classes that will be displaced during our upcoming construction projects,” Atkinson says.

“Ultimately, the new addition to our campus will relieve serious crowding in the academic sector of north campus,” she explains. “It will provide much needed office space, free up pressure on Templeton Student Center as a conference facility and enrich the quality of performance space on campus.”

“For as long as the College has been located in this beautiful area of Portland, it has been a neighbor to the Sisters of St. Francis,” comments Charles Swindells, chair of the Lewis & Clark Board of Trustees. “On behalf of the trustees of the College, I want to assure the sisters and our other neighbors and friends that we will treasure and cherish this place and that we will continue to use it for the lasting benefit of our community.”

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