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Interpretive Centre: East Block, 1886

The Entrance and Foyer

Cherub overlooking the foyer Cherub overlooking the foyer
(click for larger image)

The girls were not accustomed to using the formal staircase at the front of the building that led up to this part of the Academy. Students entered through doors closer to their classrooms. It became tradition to take class photographs on the grand main stairs, and this was the main association the students had with this part of their school. This new building became the formal entrance to the school and convent, where visitors were received and the chapel was entered. This is now the area where guests may enter the Interpretive Centre, to visit the sections of the Academy that have undergone historic conservation to return them to their appearance in the 1920s, the date chosen for the restoration.

After entering the main doors, visitors passed parlours on the left and right. The foyer opened up into an area that provided access to the chapel. This was a quiet section of the Academy, so that prayers and services would not be disturbed. The archway before the chapel doors was ornamented with plasterwork, containing rosettes or flower designs, and cherub faces. These were carefully reproduced and repaired by plasterers, working during the restoration, using the same methods as in the parlours and the chapel. This area was also at the threshold to the Convent. The students were aware of this fact, and treated this part of the Academy as if there were an invisible wall, which they could not cross into from the classroom wing.

Chapel doors with Cardinal Tisserant c. 1956 Chapel doors with
Cardinal Tisserant c. 1956

The halls were always kept gleaming. It was part of the household duties of the Sisters, and sometimes the students, to keep the floors clean and shining. Every feast day, these areas were given an extra cleaning, so that the light reflected off of the hardwood and linoleum floors. For special occasions, the Sisters used to strip the wax from the floors. The paste wax would then be put back on, and polished with a broom weighted by bricks. A Sister commented "When you clean these places, you remember some of them!" Some of the Sisters recall being so exhausted after this task that they could barely eat the food prepared to celebrate the special occasion. These feelings are echoed by Sylvia Scott. "We had to polish a lot of floors ... a lot."

The foyer evolved over the years to suit different uses. An infirmary was situated to the left of the chapel doors. There, ill and elderly residents of the convent community could rest and recover. A small door accessed the chapel, so that they were still able to attend to Mass. (It is now an office for the Friends of St. Ann's Society). A telephone room was also located in this area. Aside from the telephone in the Principal's office, this was the only phone in the building, and the only one available to the students for many years. The phone room has now become a storage closet.