Crews tear down St. Joseph Hall at St. Lawrence Seminary after fire

MOUNT CALVARY – A fire destroyed a 140 year old building on the grounds of a Fox Valley Catholic prep school.

Crews battled flames for more than seven hours after the blaze broke out around 5:30 this morning.

Smoke from the blaze at Saint Lawrence Seminary High School could be seen for miles.

It’s located, in Mount Calvary, in the northeast part of Fond du Lac County.

“I feel a lot of compassion towards the other people that really had a lot of loss,” said Eli King, Saint Lawrence student.

Eli King attends Saint Lawrence Seminary. He watched as a fire ripped through Saint Joseph Hall.

The hall housed the school’s music rooms and admissions department.

More than two dozen fire crews from surrounding counties helped battle the blaze.

“I talked to my first two guys in. They met heavy fire. They actually got in a little too deep and they pulled out. They got out and that’s when we went defensive,” said Mark Petrie, Mount Calvary fire chief.

The building sits on top of the hill which made it difficult for fire crews.

“With that load of fire the hydrant system was capped out so we had to have water trucked in from lakes and ponds,” Petrie said.

Despite their best efforts, firefighters couldn’t save the building.

This isn’t the first time fire has damaged the Catholic boarding school.

In 1868, Christmas night, the entire seminary burned to the ground.

St. Joseph Hall was built four years later.

St. Joseph Hall is the oldest building on campus. But when it comes to what the school lost, it’s less about the building and more about what’s inside.

“We had about 40 kids who were supposed to go to a solo and ensemble competition today for different musical instruments and stuff and they were not able to go because we couldn’t get their instruments and their music and stuff out of the building,” said Rev. John Holly.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and the school doesn’t know if it will rebuild.

As students watch a bulldozer tear down what’s left of Saint Joseph Hall, they are left with the times they once shared inside the building.

“I had religion in that building like freshman year so a lot of good memories,” King said.

Despite the loss, the seminary says school will resume on Monday.

Students have only five days left until winter break, and officials have advised that all students call their parents and inform them of the fire.

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