Providence Academy, a private Roman Catholic school in Plymouth serving grades preK-12, has been named the most beautiful private high school in the state by Architectural Digest, a monthly publication and leading international authority in design and architecture.
When Architectural Digest contacted Providence to announce that it had been named most beautiful, Erica Winegar was ecstatic. She was also surprised. Winegar knows that Providence places a high value on aesthetics and appreciates its beauty, but neither she nor anyone else had submitted Providence for consideration. “We don’t know the process, but we’re extremely honored to have been chosen for this award,” says Winegar.
Founded in 2001, beautiful surroundings have always been important to Providence. “We believe students’ environment is very important,” says Susan Truax, Providence Academy admissions assistant. She explains that the school’s architecture, with its tall columns and curved archways, is a Georgian-style colonial structure and was inspired by the College of William and Mary, the second oldest college in the country, chartered in 1693. “We value tradition at Providence, so the founders wanted to ensure that the students’ physical surroundings were traditional as well. Truax says that the attention given to architecture can help reinforce the message that every person has God-given human dignity, and that the physical surroundings can inspire students to do their very best.
Religious paintings and statuary are placed throughout the building, but one of the first images people see when they enter the building is a frieze of Mary. “We want the students and the families, everyone who comes in, to feel welcome and valued. Mary is a very welcoming presence,” says Truax. Small nooks in the school are furnished with comfortable chairs, a coffee table and an inviting fireplace to further impart a sense of welcome and comfort.
The value that Providence places on the fine arts is also apparent. In 2016, the school added a performing arts center with state-of-the-art light and sound technology. Scene and costume workshops give students the opportunity to learn stage design. Careful attention was paid to design—after the school purchased chandeliers and they were not found to complement the space, the school had custom chandeliers created. The theater has graceful balconies and an ellipse-shaped illuminated ceiling. The center also has a dance studio and a rehearsal space. Students are encouraged to create their own beauty through visual arts. The art studios have wood-beamed ceilings, brick walls and large windows so that natural light can stream in. Music rooms also have large windows providing natural light.
The school chapel, where Mass is celebrated, is decorated with paintings and statuary, and the school also contains a museum-quality antiquities gallery, with artifacts from Rome, Greece and Egypt.
While Providence Academy is a Catholic school, it welcomes students of all faiths, nationalities and ethnicities.