Tom Smull, a former Stuart resident, gave an informational presentation last week at the Stuart Chamber of Commerce meeting held at the Harris House. He spoke of ideas for restoration of the former All Saints Catholic Church, proposed plans for the building, economic impact on the community and grant possibilities. Smull provided many diagrams and architectural drawings during his report.
On September 15, Project Restore plans to officially sign papers relating to ownership of the building. According to Smull, once the paperwork is completed the group will hold a clean-up day to remove the stained glass windows, debris and other items.
The proposed plans for the refurbished facility would result in a community cultural center and an institute of religious tolerance, according to Smull. The cultural center would be used for receptions, reunions, theatre, arts and conference. Project Restore foresees a structure that would seat 400 people theatre-style or 270 round table dinner-style. The religious center would hopefully attract interstate traffic and might include an interactive learning center, self-guided tours and educational information about world religions.
Smull reported that three full-time and some part-time positions could be created one the project is completed.
According to Smull, the group estimated the economic impact for Stuart during the first year of operation could be as much as one-half million dollars.
There will be a great deal of fundraising in the near future, during the project and afterwards, Smull reported. He reviewed a variety grants for rehabilitating and operating the building. "The only thing that can stop us is negativity," Smull stated. "Everything we need is in the community," such as writers, creative minds and volunteer labor.
Bill Wagner, an architect who has been involved with projects such as Living History Farms, Terrace Hills, Herbert Hoover birthplace and Masonic Temple building, has been assisting Project Restore.
The All Saints building has been vacant since August 1995 when an arsonist from Des Moines set it on fire.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution should send it to the Project Restore account at the First State Bank.