Architect of the Capitol George M. White is eying a small Catholic high school on East Capitol Street as a new home for the congressional page school.
But while White claims that St. Cecilia's Academy at 601 East Capitol St. is going to be up for sale by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington in 1986, Monsignor John J. Scanlon -- who is in charge of Catholic high schools in this area -- said he has no plan to sell the property.
At a hearing before the House Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch early this year, White testified that the page school is going to have to move out of the upper floors of the Library of Congress by 1988 due to fire-safety problems and an $81 million renovation plan that will affect several library buildings. He indicated that he would rather find a new permanent site instead of shuttling the school to temporary space and then back into the library.
"We have spoken with the responsible parties, who indicate that sometime in 1986, although that date keeps getting moved a little further into the future, they will be ready to vacate, and they have engaged a . . . broker to look around for people who might be interested in the property," White said.
White, who is in charge of managing the Capitol grounds, previously had looked to purchase the site because it had a gymnasium that could be used by the Capitol Police. White told the committee he determined that he could not justify purchasing the property for the gym alone, but with the classrooms used for school purposes and office space, the purchase price of $2 million would be economical.
Scanlon, however, said "it appears that the information Mr. White is using is old." The archdiocese now plans to shut down St. Patrick's Academy at 924 G St. NW and merge it into St. Cecilia's this fall. The name is supposed to change to Holy Spirit High School. "At this point, we would not consider the offer, because we have no other place for the students," Scanlon said.
During the hearing, Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee, agreed to review a package of options on how the school site could be acquired. White was unavailable for comment.
As part of the deal, White is supposed to explore whether the old Providence Memorial Hospital site could be sold, perhaps to the city or to private developers for town houses, to raise the money necessary to buy St. Cecilia's and turn it into the page school. In the past, the Providence site was supposed to be developed into a $20 million John W. McCormack Residential Page School. Because of the cost, the plans have sat on a back burner and the property has been landscaped into a community park.