Central Catholic High School illustrations
Aerial view of Central Catholic campus shows new wing.
Central Catholic High School illustrations
Aerial view of Central Catholic campus shows new wing.
The next phase of construction at Central Catholic High School includes an addition that will link two existing wings and enclose the school’s courtyard.

Even though the school is currently at maximum enrollment, the purpose of what is being called the “Link Building” is not expansion but improvement, says John Harrington, president of the Southeast Portland school.

Work by Fortis Construction on the $7.2-million phase will begin in the next year and is slated for completion during the 2014-’15 school term.

The second floor of the new wing will include classrooms and support services for students with special needs.

On the first floor will be a counseling center and student commons, which can be used for large group presentations and events. On the lower level will be a permanent place for band and choral programs and a weight room.

The original 1939 building featured five classrooms, a library and study hall, a recreation room, administrative offices, and a locker room. Cost was $58,000 — which translates to about $1 million today.

The school later added a gymnasium (1940), expanded its basement to include a cafeteria and a recreation room, added a more prominent façade (1946) and pushed out east  with a three-floor addition that included four classrooms on the first and second floors, and a new band room and art space in the basement (1953).

Renovations have occurred on a regular basis including a new gym (1989); new library (2004); and a new playing field.

In 2011, Central Catholic produced a master plan for improvements to the building and its surroundings. After negotiations with the city and the neighborhood association, Central Catholic’s plan was approved and the school was given a 10-year time to complete construction.

The first phase of this plan was finished last summer with the completion of a parking lot on 24th and Stark streets across from the main entrance, the widening of 24th Street, and the installation of angled parking on 26th Street.