Julie Padberg-White of the FPA Group was assigned the project of conceiving, designing and overseeing the renovation of the Nerinx Hall High School Library in Webster Groves, Missouri. Julie needed our assistance with creating the graphics, scanning and photographing the archives from her sketches shown below. Studio 2108 provided the final files to Engraphix Architectural Signage who produced and installed the signage on the wall.
The design process included meetings with faculty, students, and the administration in order to develop a design that would reflect the uniqueness of the school while reflecting the Loretto spirit. With the renovation came the challenge of how to address the large 60-foot long wall that reached nearly 20 feet on one end and tapered to 12 feet on the other. An Alumna herself, and a parent of a current Nerinx student, Julie, building on the energy and ideas of the community, determined that developing a graphic chronology, or a legacy wall celebrating the Sisters of Loretto as well as the history of school would help maintain the Loretto presence and inspire students. President John Gabriel was a strong supporter of the idea as he had once mentioned wanting an opportunity to create some type of chronology in the school.
In order to create the wall, Julie delved into the existing school archives, worked with archivists and met with them at the Loretto Sisters motherhouse in Kentucky, reached out to Alumna and did interviews with Sisters about the amazing work of Loretto Sisters around the world.
The timeline, while filled with fun photos and an interactive screen for current students, it is intended to also help the girls understand the foundation of Loretto Values that have been ever-present at Nerinx Hall. These core values are stated on the wall, along with photographs that document traditions and the evolution of the school, from the buildings themselves, the students’ uniforms and schedules, and snapshots of daily life at the Hall.
While historical events relevant to Nerinx are important, Sister Barbara Roche, the past President of the School, whom the library is dedicated to, did not want to show the history of Nerinx and the Loretto Sisters in a vacuum. With this goal, events like World Wars, the passing of Voting Rights and other monumental events help provide a historical framework. In addition, specific historical nodes, depicted on large natural poplar discs, provide summaries of the impact the Sisters had and continue to have, in various locations around the world. The disc of poplar is a nod to the State of Kentucky, where the order was founded in 1812 and where the motherhouse resides today.
Interesting side note about a feature on the wall:
1929 marked the first full class to graduate from Nerinx. At some point after Hurricane Katrina, a letter and class ring arrived by mail to Nerinx Hall High School. Chris Favre was doing cleanup in 2005-2006 and found the ring, hoping to return the ring to its rightful owner. After deciphering the initials inscribed inside the ring, he tracked down Mae and sent the ring to Nerinx, hoping they could return the ring to its rightful owner. Nerinx was unable to find Mae or any remaining family, but they were able to find photos of Mae at her 50-Year reunion. The photos of Mae in high school as well as at her reunion are presented on the wall next to an enlarged photo of her original ring from the first graduating class of Nerinx.
Click the images below to enlarge the original drawings.