By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – People may have thought Jim and Miriam Mulva’s gift of a $50 million Mulva Cultural Center a couple weeks ago was generous enough.
Little did they know that the couple wasn’t done yet.
On May 14, 13 days after revealing plans for the center, the De Pere natives announced another major endeavor in the works: a new Catholic school and parish hall for St. Francis Xavier Church on De Pere’s east side.
The $27 million plan involves razing both Notre Dame Middle School, 221 S. Wisconsin St., and St. Mary Elementary School, 100 S. Huron St., and creating a combined K-8 school, where the current St. Mary Elementary playground now sits.
The schools won’t be razed until after the new school is finished, to avoid interrupting the school year and moving kids around, Jim Mulva said.
The new school – a three-story, 87,000-square-foot building that will be able to house around 400 students, is slated to open its doors in the fall of 2020 as Notre Dame School of De Pere.
This fall’s incoming class of eighth graders will be the last eighth-grade class to graduate from the current Notre Dame Middle School.
“Jim and I went to school together here,” said Mayor Mike Walsh.
He thanked the Mulvas for their generous gifts and said the city is grateful to them for the development that’s in the pipeline.
“Not every community is fortunate enough to have all of this going on,” Walsh said.
The Mulva Cultural Center, a 60,000-square-foot facility that will host world-class exhibits and displays, is slated to be done sometime in 2022.
“There’s going to be a lot going on in the area in the coming years, and no doubt some inconvenience, but we think it all will be worth it once it’s done,” Jim Mulva said.
The new Notre Dame School of De Pere is being designed by GROTH Design Group of Cedarburg and Milwaukee and will be built by Miron Construction Co. of Neenah.
“Miron will be on a very aggressive schedule,” he said. “But they can do it – they do it all around Wisconsin, all of the time.”
Along with the two schools, the Father Tony Dolski Parish Center (which is adjacent to St. Francis Xavier Parish), along with a parish garage, and the red-brick St. Xavier Parish Office building, also on the grounds of St. Francis Xavier Parish, will be torn down.
St. Francis Xavier Parish is to remain standing.
The cleared grounds around it will be landscaped and used mainly as a parking area for the church and the Mulva Cultural Center, which is to be built on a site barely a paper airplane’s flight path away from the current middle school.
Late last week, the Green Bay Catholic Diocese transferred ownership of the land on which the two schools and parish auxiliary buildings stand to the De Pere Cultural Foundation.
Miriam and Jim Mulva both attended Catholic schools in De Pere, and when they’re in town, they go to mass at St. Francis Xavier Church, Miriam said.
Their families attended the church, and the parish area has a significance for the couple.
“In the middle of the construction area is where we said ‘I do’ 50 years ago, on June 29, 1969,” she said.