The Watch

St. Peter's College, Cardross

Cardross, Scotland, United Kingdom

2008 World Monuments Watch

St. Peter's College was intended to be a seminary for Catholic priests. Influenced by Le Corbusier's monastery of La Tourette in France and designed by Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, Scotland's leading postwar architects, it was spacious and filled with light. It was named Scotland's greatest post-World War II building by the architecture magazine Prospect. However, the timing for a new seminary was poor. The Second Vatican Council had just made sweeping changes in the Roman Catholic Church, and had stated that priests should be trained in communities rather than remote seminaries. At the same time, church attendance was down and fewer young men were entering the priesthood. The seminary was closed in 1980, and the building was vacated by the end of the decade owing to ongoing maintenance problems.

Subsequently, St. Peter’s fell subject to vandalism and decay. The Archdiocese of Glasgow did little to maintain or protect the site, and their offer to give it to Historic Scotland was declined. In 2004 they lodged an application to consolidate the building as a ruin, but by the time it was included on the 2008 World Monuments Watch, a decision had not been issued by the authorities. In the meantime the site continued to deteriorate. It had an evocative and powerful visual impact even in its state of severe decay.

Since the Watch

Following the Watch, St. Peter’s received a £45,000 grant from the Scottish Arts Council to revitalize the building and its surrounding woodlands as an arts center. In 2009, NVA, a Glasgow-based arts organization received public funding to develop plans for temporary and permanent art installations on the site. In the fall of 2010, residents of Renton and Cardross participated in two planning days during which they were invited to explore the estate surrounding St. Peter's College using interpretive material developed by NVA. Further resources for the conservation project at the seminary came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the largest dedicated funder of heritage protection in the United Kingdom. The fund allocated £565,000 to the site in 2013 and a further £4.2 million in March 2016. The project began in May 2015. It has involved a clearing of asbestos, which allowed a sound and light performance to bring 8,000 visitors to the building in March 2016. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

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