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OLD SCHOOL LIVES ON HOLY ANGELS IS NOW D'YOUVILLE LIBRARY

Holy Angels Elementary School, a West Side landmark since 1905, is starting a new life as the D'Youville College Library.

The four-story Grecian-style structure, facing both West and Fargo avenues, underwent a massive, $7.2 million renovation over the past year and is now a state-of-the-art repository for 120,000 books; 750 journals; audio and video resources; computers; and a conference room.

It will be dedicated at 11:30 a.m. Monday in a ceremony under the building's original stained-glass skylight, 30 feet above the fourth floor.

"D'Youville instructed us to retain as much of the exterior material and appearance as function would allow," said Dale B. Ransom, senior project manager for EI Associates, architects for the new library.

So, although the change in the building's appearance is dramatic, the look and feel of the old elementary school remain.

Almost all of the school's original Indiana limestone exterior has been kept. Its original roof, like the limestone, has been repaired, cleaned and refurbished. Even Holy Angels' old oak classroom doors are in use.

"The doors were refurbished and used horizontally as wainscoting throughout the building," Ransom said. Other woodwork was used as decorative elements in the lobby, and behind the circulation and reference desks, he added.

The main entrance is now a striking, tinted-glass enclosure facing Fargo Avenue and housing the lobby. The three round windows over the glass entrance are originals. So are six more round windows gracing the West Avenue side of the building. Perhaps the new library's most striking features are the old school dome and the stained glass skylight.

A choir of eight angels is depicted in the 10-foot-in-diameter window, which was cleaned and restored by Frohe Art Glass of Cheektowaga.

The old elementary school, Holy Angels from 1905 to 1988 and Olmsted West from 1988 to 1994, was purchased, with an acre of land, by D'Youville in 1996 from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate for $280,000.

Its transformation to a 42,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art library represents the first major campus construction project at D'Youville in more than two decades.

College President Sister Denise A. Roche said recent increases in enrollment made the new library a necessity. "The old D'Youville library was constructed more than 40 years ago for a student body of 400 women," she said. "Today, we have in excess of 2,000 men and women enrolled."

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