The seminary was established in 1973 in Winona, Minnesota, for the formation of Roman Catholic priests. They then relocated to the new St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, which was constructed on Ranson Road, just 11 miles outside the Town of Dillwyn.
Father Reuter, a priest who teaches at the seminary, was involved to make sure construction corresponded to the vision of the new church. Reuter works directly with Kevin Monsey, a construction consultant who works for the seminary.
According to Reuter, the project is situated on 1,100 acres of property the seminary purchased. The first phase of the project will contain several buildings with a total of approx. 140,000 square feet; the second phase focused on designing and building the church. Phase 1 includes the religious cloister, which consists of the mechanical system, a music classroom, and storage in the basement level. Academic classrooms for the first floor, and bedrooms and offices in the second and third floors.
This is a unique building, something that has not been built since the 18th century in the U.S. “There’s a certain look we’re going after that hasn’t been built in 200 years. So, getting everyone up to speed with that, trying to understand what that is, while using modern technology, while using all the things we can to keep the costs down…So how to keep the spirit that we want without just wasting money. So it’s been a challenge.”
A lot of traditional and classic elements were added, such as masonry walls, to add a sense of permanence. “We want this building to be a reflection of what the church is…It’s the reason that’s motivated many past constructions in the past thousands of years. They wanted to build something that was a symbol…It’s something which we have no intention of leaving, and so we thought we’d make it that…And it helps as for the sound factors as well.
There is a lot more to the project than its historic identity. The entire project overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains to the West. Cattle will be raised on the land and around 100 people will be fed every day.
The seminary is also a green and sustainable energy efficient building.