O’Connor Center project nearing completion Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
A look inside one of the fully-furnished apartments to be available at Holy Name Heights, located in the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Center (BOC) in Madison. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- People in the Diocese of Madison were recently given a “sneak peak” at the progress of the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Center (BOC) redevelopment.

The building served as Holy Name Seminary from 1963 until 1995. In 1998, it reopened as the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center. It has been serving as the home of diocesan offices and other organizations such as Catholic Charities, the Catholic Herald, Relevant Radio, and Catholic Mutual Group.

Within the last few years, studies were done to determine how to make better use of the building.

A decision was made for a historic redevelopment of the building, which would include converting part of it into 53 residential apartment units, to be called Holy Name Heights, along with still housing the diocesan and organization offices.

Gorman & Company was engaged by the diocese to serve as the developer of the $21 million project and provide architectural and construction services, and property management for the redevelopment.

Gorman successfully nominated the BOC as an historic landmark and had it placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This designation enabled Gorman & Company to procure $5.8 million in historic tax credits to leverage for project costs.

Building tour

As dozens of potential tenants, former Holy Name students, and other interested guests sat in the Bishop O’Donnell Holy Name Memorial Chapel for the “sneak preview,” Msgr. James Bartylla, vicar general of the diocese, welcomed everyone to “an early vision how things are changing as we redevelop into these apartments.”


Monsignor Bartylla gave a short history of the building and praised the eventual “higher utilization of the property,” along with returning a residential life back to the building that it hadn’t seen since its seminary days.

He called the BOC the “last historic and important element of the diocese as far as a notable, signature building,” after the Bishops Bay and downtown chancery properties were sold and St. Raphael Cathedral was destroyed by fire a decade ago.

Gorman & Company Lead Architect Marc Ott, member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, spoke next and led one of the tours.

He said “one of the exciting parts” of the project was the chapel -- noted for its 360-piece mosaic that rises three stories behind the altar and for its dramatic stained glass windows -- still able to be used.

Along with daily weekday Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, the chapel itself will be open 24 hours a day for all residents.

While heading to an area under construction, Ott pointed out a plaque featuring the names of all Holy Name graduates who became priests and Religious, which will be part of the finished project on display.

Parts of the original seminary walls are going to be preserved in the apartment areas to “get the feel of how it was out here,” Ott said.

Other stops on the tour included a look at the recently finished Catholic Charities offices and the so-called Bishop’s Lounge, which will serve as a lounge area for all residents.

Living at Holy Name Heights

A finished model apartment was unveiled on the tour.

The 53 apartments will have either one or two bedrooms. Each will offer an enclosed, heated parking space and availability for storage.

A guest suite will be available to rent by residents for visiting family and friends.

Residents at Holy Name Heights will have access to amenities including two interior courtyards and a full size gymnasium.

There will also be a theater room -- in the former Holy Spirit Oratory -- with a 100-inch screen, a fully equipped community room, and fitness centers.

To recognize and celebrate the BOC’s historic and cultural significance, Gorman & Company created a dedicated space for a “History Lounge” underneath the chapel. There will be a display of memorabilia and photographs chronicling the history of Holy Name Seminary. Everyone will be welcome to view the collection and learn about the BOC’s spiritual legacy in a warm and inviting setting.

The units are set to be available February 1, 2016, and the waiting list for apartments is growing.

For more information on Holy Name Heights, contact Rick, Holy Name Heights’ property manager, at 608-286-1177, by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or online at

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