Heavy equipment arrived at the former Northeast Catholic High School Faculty House on Torresdale Avenue last week as crews prepare the building for demolition.
The building, on the campus of Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School (MBA), has been in poor condition since the days of North Catholic prior to its sale to the charter school in 2011.
The idea to save the building would have been great, but according to Angela Villani, CEO of MBA, the building is in too bad of a condition.
There’s asbestos, mold and the inside was soaked as rain water came in from the damaged roof.
Some Northeast Catholic Alumni remember the building fondly, when it was linked to the school building with a bridge. Jim Murphy, Class of 1956, told the Juniata News that he remembers when they built the bridge. According to Murphy, he graduated in a class of 1,103 students. It was a time when annex buildings in the neighborhoods had to be used to accommodate all of the enrolled students.
“I loved it,” said Murphy of his education there. “We got a great education from the Oblates.” His education served him well as he went on to a career with TV Guide.
Murphy knows, however, that the building is in terrible shape. When he visited North Catholic prior to its closing in 2010, he was told that you can’t go in there without a hazmat suit because of the asbestos and peeling paint.
Now, the students at Mariana Bracetti Academy will be able to fully utilize that space as a new Wellness Center with a full gymnasium and dining hall with outdoor seating will be constructed on the site. There will be space for volleyball, wrestling, weight-lifting, and much more in the gymnasium with new locker rooms. The dining hall will include outdoor seating.
Villani said that it’s exciting and an honor to be in the North Catholic building. With just one gymnasium and one cafeteria in the school, the new Wellness Center will be a welcomed addition. 1,500 students are currently enrolled in the school. MBA will have the building open to the community as well, in order to “contribute to the common good,” said Villani. She would like to see North Catholic grads come back to utilize the space. “It’s gonna be a good space. It really is!”
Asbestos abatement is taking place now, and demolition will start in early October. There is no ground contamination. Completion of the Wellness Center is expected in 2022, and a bridge, like in the past, will be constructed to link it to the school building.