The Catholic congregation is gone, but the beauty, serenity, and to a degree the sanctity of the 140-year-old building on Carson City's King Street remains.
Dark-stained pews still line the sanctuary as lights suspended from the high arched ceiling cast a golden glow.
The former St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church now belongs to the Brewery Arts Center, which will be bringing a "Folk & Roots Music Series" to the new and evolving performance hall Monday.
According to Brewery Executive Director Joe McCarthy, respect for the building and its history will be paramount through this transition.
"We're focused on preserving the building's strengths, the acoustics and intimacy of the space," McCarthy said. "But we need to provide first-class stage lighting, new seating and improve the sight lines (view of the stage) for the audience. For now we've elevated the stage, which is working fine."
According to McCarthy, the religious art is part of the building's historical quality.
"The building has been deconsecrated as a church and though the art is religious, it is also beautifully artistic. It's elegant and finely spaced, but it isn't intrusive and adds to the historical heart of the building," he said.
Space will be added to the south end for a performance staging area and to improve the electrical and mechanical systems, but the size and configuration of the sanctuary will remain.
The basement will serve as a lobby and reception area, while the mezzanine provides extra seating for the theater. Additional improvements include upgrading the restrooms, providing scenery handling capability, a resilient stage floor for dancing, dressing rooms and appropriate drapery.
The Brewery Arts Center will employ a team of about seven architects, engineers, acoustic consultants and artists to help. The Brewery is community-based and supported and McCarthy hopes to reach out to everyone through this facility.
"We want to provide a place for concerts including classical, jazz and bluegrass, theatrical productions, children's productions and high school musical groups," he said. "We expect to interact with the school district to accomodate their performance groups, Carson City Symphony and more.
"Our mission is to provide the kind of artistic experience people would otherwise have to drive miles to see," he said. "We're a nonprofit arts organization and our goal is to provide space that presents literary, visual and performing arts of the finest quality."
With a seating capacity of about 300-400 people, McCarthy said the acoustics of the old church are perfect and it's ready for limited use as a performance hall.
Two groups have performed there since the Brewery took possession Dec. 1 and McCarthy expects to schedule performances in the facility throughout the transition.
Completion of the project, which includes development of an arts complex with parking, a covered outdoor stage and outdoor performance area, will be accomplished in phases to allow for uninterrupted use.
The complete remodel of the performing arts center is expected by Nevada Day of 2005, according to McCarthy.
Brewery officials are now in the process of paying the parish of St Teresa's for the old church, in addition to buying the Henry David House.
"We expect to have our visual art exhibition space completed by 2003 or 2004 and all upgrades to the theater a couple of years later," he said. "The whole project should take no more than six or seven years and we expect it to cost several million dollars. "We'll then have assets worth several million dollars in the historic district to serve the entire community. Everyone associated with the BAC is determined to make our community proud of their art center."
St. Teresa's has been located at 400 West King Street almost since Carson City's inception, but the size and demands of the congregation finally caught up with the historic little church and they moved to a new location on Lompa Lane.
In March, $675,000 in funds were committed to the project by Carson City's Redevelopment Authority and the balance, $225,000, was financed through the Catholic Church. The $225,000 is due within three years and the option on the Henry David House, another $175,000, expires June 30.
Coming events at Brewery Arts Center's Performance Hall:
Monday -- Harvey Reid, virtuoso guitarist, 7:30 p.m., $15
Wednesday -- Brooklyn Sax Quartet, reed ensemble, 7:30 p.m., $18
Feb. 9 -- Tom Paxton, folk singer, 7:30 p.m., $25
Feb. 15 -- Patrick Ball, Celtic harp, 7:30 p.m., $15
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