New St. Vincent’s Academy Principal Dawn Odom poses for a photograph inside the school’s new front office, which is now located immediately inside the school’s front gate. Photograph by Michael J. Johnson.

St. Vincent's Academy undergoes renovations

Originally Appeared in : 9917-8/15/19

Much changes each summer behind the scenes at St. Vincent’s Academy, though not all changes would be noticed by returning students and faculty without needing to don hard hats or safety goggles.  


“We try to do something every summer. A lot of times what we have to do is behind the walls or in the ceilings like heating and cooling or electrical or duct work or things like that,” says St. Vincent’s Academy (SVA) President Mary Ann Hogan. “So a lot of times you don’t see it. We work all summer really hard to make sure that things are upgraded and updated, but you don’t see it.”


This summer, however, the Savannah secondary school for girls underwent a series of more visible upgrades that not only improved the appearance of the institution but also made it more functional for its faculty and students. (See more photographs, both before and after the renovations, on our Smugmug gallery.)


In order to accommodate the school’s new president/principal administrative model, a new office was built for Hogan as the school’s first president, and the offices of the principal, academic dean and athletic director were moved to become part of an administrative suite. 


The school’s front office was also made more accessible to visitors: It now can be found immediately inside the school gate on Lincoln Street. 


President Hogan said that the new location of the front office was decided for “safety reasons,” so that “visitors wouldn’t have to wander throughout the building.”


Cosmetically, floors throughout the building were replaced, walls accented in the school’s colors, and students’ meeting and pond spaces freshened up. The exterior of the school building was also painted with the approval of the Savannah Historic District Board of Review. 


Aside from some minor future tweaks to be completed over weekends or school holidays, the entire renovation project lasted 64 days and was funded partially through a social media challenge, which was initiated after an unsolicited donor reached out to SVA after seeing pictures of the construction online.  


Though the additional funds were a blessing during construction, there were unforeseen challenges along the way as well. 


 “Summer was very challenging. It was very hot. We came into a lot of unplanned kind of surprises during construction,” President Hogan said, having earlier noted that construction work couldn’t begin on the floors until students had left for summer vacation at the end of May.  “You know every time you take out a wall you find something that you didn’t anticipate. It never goes quite as smoothly as you anticipate.”


She continued, “But it was all worth it when the students came back…just their reaction. Whenever you renovate a space it just feels so nice. And to be going to school someplace that you’re proud to walk into every day that’s freshened up and looks nice. It just kind of elevates your experience here.”


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