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$5.5 Million Holt Center Opens at Holy Ghost Preparatory School

For this project, Nave Newell worked with McGillin Architecture to redevelop the former Bound’s Beverage soda and beer distributorship into new 27,000 sf performing arts, athletic and activity center for Holy Ghost Preparatory School.  

From the Bucks County Courier

The Holt Center has a performing arts auditorium, practice gymnasium, music rehearsal room, exercise room and other amenities.

A new $5.5 million performing arts, athletic and activities center puts Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem a big step closer to being the area’s premier Catholic prep school, HGP President Gregory Geruson said Friday morning.

Speaking before hundreds of students, staffers and visitors at the official opening of the Holt Center, Geruson said the facility will enrich the educational and extracurricular experience of students.

“How cool is this?” he asked the crowd. “It’s unbelievable.”

The 27,000-square-foot center, located just across Route 13 from the rest of the HGP campus, is a complete renovation of the former Bound’s Beverage soda and beer distributorship the school purchased for $1 million in 2013. Ground was broken 11 months ago.

It’s named for brothers Tom, Leo and Michael Holt, owners of Holt Logistics in Philadelphia and all graduates of Holy Ghost Prep. They contributed $650,000 toward the project.

The rest of the money for the purchase and project came from a $2.5 million state redevelopment grant obtained with the help of state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-18, of Bensalem, and fundraising, Geruson said.

“Holy Ghost Prep has always been a big part of the identity of Bensalem, and when I walked in here today, I just thought, ‘Wow, what an amazing accomplishment,’” said DiGirolamo, who attended the all-boys school for a brief time in the mid 1960s.

Holt Center has a practice gym with six basketball hoops, a performing arts auditorium for plays and concerts, music rehearsal spaces both small and large, an exercise and workout room and indoor batting cages, pitching mounds and track and field practice space so HGP athletes can sharpen their skills all year round.

Before, plays were held in the school’s main gymnasium and had to be scheduled around basketball games and other indoor athletic events, HGP students and officials said. Concerts were held in the chapel, which wasn’t really suited for such events, they added.

Rehearsal space for music and theater was limited and makeshift, like classrooms and the school cafeteria, students and staffers said.

“The acoustics in this new place are great, and it will give us so much of a better experience both for concerts and to rehearse,” said Holy Ghost junior Adam Lawall, who plays saxophone in the band.

“The difference is unbelievable,” added fellow junior Jeff DiFrancesco, who sings in the choir. “It’s so much more professional. It will help make us better at what we do.”

And that should attract more interest in the school, said Geruson. He said he hopes the new center will help increase enrollment at the grades 9-12 school from its present 490 to the maximum of 510.

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