Cupola added to historic convent at Ascension Catholic School

Michael Tortorich
Deep South Crane and Rigging workers lift the new cupola onto the convent building at Ascension Catholic Diocesan Regional School in Donaldsonville Wednesday afternoon.

Standing under the shady tree in front of the convent at Ascension Catholic School Wednesday afternoon, John Beck Sr. placed a phone call. He had some good news that was a long time coming.

"It's up!" he said into the speaker. " They've got it up!"

The "it" referred to the new cupola in the center of the convent.

The building has a storied past, one that includes lore stretching as far back as before the Civil War. 

Ascension Catholic is the oldest school in the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. It traces its roots back to 1845 when six Daughters of Charity arrived in Donaldsonville.

The three-story brick building once served as a hospital, a school (originally known as St. Vincent Institute), and a residence for the Daughters of Charity.

This week, a new chapter was added to that story as students and faculty were able to watch history being made - from a safe distance, of course.

Beck, who formerly served as principal and currently works as development director, said the Restore the Convent project has been a work in progress over the last few years. 

It began with roof work about two years ago, during Beck's tenure as principal. Then, renovation was done to the balcony.

Last July, a contract was signed to build the cupola.

Slated for October 2018, the completion was delayed due to unforeseen challenges.

Deep South Crane and Rigging donated its services to install the cupola.

Beck said brick memorials have been sold as a way to generate funds for the project.

School administration also plan to install a new sign and landscaping to give the area a more rustic look.

Watch the full video of the cupola being raised on our Facebook page.