Founded in 1951 as an African American Franciscan Church and School, the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School has strived to instill life-long learning, leadership, and service in each student. After raising over $5 million to cover construction costs and operating expenses for the first three years, St. Anthony of Padua contracted McMillan Pazdan Smith for the design of their new elementary school.
With a desire to increase enrollment and consolidate mobile classroom units, the parish embarked on the design of a new elementary school to house Kindergarten through 6th grades and include smart classrooms, a gymnasium, art room, library, cafeteria,and an administration suite. The two-story, 31,000 SF building is connected near the main entrance by a custom monumental staircase with elements that were handcrafted by a local metal smith. Way-finding to clusters of classroom spaces were organized with large graphic installations depicting African American Franciscan religious scenes and coordinating colors.
Many of St. Anthony’s students come from impoverished and disadvantaged backgrounds, groups that typically do not perform well in school. However, St. Anthony’s boasts a 94% graduation rate, with over half of those students attending college. The Greenville community recognized St. Anthony’s success by generously participating in the school’s fundraising efforts. The new shock-absorbing gymnasium floor was donated by Bon Secours St. Francis, and St. Anthony’s plans to open the gym to the public.
The school has its own chapel, complete with a circular stained glass window depicting a dove that is an exact replica of one in the Vatican. Furnishings for the chapel were donated by friars in Providence, Rhode Island.
Designed to blend into the residential neighborhood, the exterior of the building is comprised of stone veneer, plank siding, cedar brackets, and metal standing seam roof assemblies. A long front canopy allows for easy drop-off and pick-up of students and also supports a vegetated roof. The kindergarten wing is supported by a separate drop-off to allow parents the ability to walk their children to their classrooms. The building was placed adjacent to a playground, which allows young children to access the playground without crossing the parking lot.
Fr. Patrick Tuttle, Franciscan Friar and St. Anthony’s pastor is elated with the new space McMillan Pazdan Smith has created stating, “I will never be able to thank you enough for what you have done for these children.”