Bellarmine wins San Jose OK for campus revamp, new academic building

Construction and renovations are planned at iconic high school

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Bellarmine College Preparatory has received approval for a comprehensive overhaul of the campus of the historic all-boys high school in San Jose, which includes a new academic building and renovations to existing structures.

The new Wade Academic Center will replace the outdated O’Donnell Hall, which was built in the 1960s as a dormitory and then converted to a classroom building in 1983.

“That building (O’Donnell Hall) has been limited in its academic utility,” said Brian Adams, vice president of advancement at Bellarmine, in an email to this news organization.

Bellarmine officials determined a number of years ago that the prestigious private Catholic school for boys needed a major overhaul, including a modern learning center.

The planned work will dramatically alter the appearance and feel of the campus. Bellarmine was founded in 1851 and is California’s oldest secondary school.

As part of the 17.6-acre Jesuit school’s development and upgrade plan, O’Donnell Hall and Wade Residence Hall will be demolished.

Liccardo Center and Mathewson Hall will also be renovated.

It was unclear when construction on the new Wade education building, which will house 21 classrooms, would begin.

According to city planning documents, the two-story Wade building will be approximately 45,200 square feet.

“Wade Academic Center will also feature a new speech and debate hub, providing stellar space reflective of the school’s nationally recognized speech and debate program,” Adams said in a statement.

In addition, after the demolition of O’Donnell Hall is completed, a new administrative and academic building totaling 23,000 square feet will be built.

“Our new buildings are also LEED designed and constructed, reflecting Bellarmine’s environmental sustainability objectives,” said Adams.

Berchmans Hall, a more than a century-old historic building in San Jose, will be relocated on a new foundation across the street from its current location at 870 Elm Street.

Berchmans Hall was originally built in 1916 as a private residence near the Bellarmine campus on Stockton Avenue and Taylor Street, but was relocated to the school site in 1948, according to a post on the Two Feet Walking Blog website.

Berchmans Hall will be used as an admissions and welcome center after being relocated across the street to a parking lot.

After Wade Hall is demolished, the Jesuits who live there will be relocated to a brand-new residence complex at 931 University Avenue.

“The new Jesuit residence is essential to ensuring that there is a Jesuit presence on campus for years to come, which certainly assists in our identity as a Catholic, Jesuit school,” he said.

According to Adams, the city’s rezoning approval granted this week will be read into the public record at an Oct. 31 council meeting and will take effect on Nov. 30. These are routine actions.

However, the school’s students are at the forefront of the extensive changes on campus.

“What matters most is that the new and improved facilities will advance opportunities for our students,” he said.

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