Nonprofit seeks to transform historic church

Published On: Apr 10 2014 04:27:19 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 10 2014 05:56:50 PM EDT

Snyder Methodist Church was built in 1903 after the Great Fire of 1901 in Jacksonville.

About 20 years ago, it was deconsecrated as a church, and recently it's been closed because of safety issues.

One creator at One Spark is hoping to change that.

If the nonprofit Amiplify Inc. has its way, music will be filling the former church far beyond the days of this festival.

"We'd love to see it restored, but the bigger purpose is we'd like to see it restored and repurposed for the arts, and particularly performing arts," said Ian Stake, of Amplify.

Stake said it would house a performance stage and part of a recording studio. And when it's not being used, it would be open to the public for events like concerts and weddings.

Other parts of the building are transformed to provide music technology training for local students.

The city of Jacksonville owns the building, so Stake said his nonprofit estimates it'll take anywhere from $4 million to $5 million to lease it and restore it.

"So in the back of the church is this big fellowship hall, which we think is one of the more beautiful rooms of the church," Stake said. "We would restore this. It would also be part of a recording studio."

"The kitchen over here is something that is a part of our renovation plan, is to have a full commercial kitchen so we'll partner with any kind of caterers who want to come in and have any kind of events here, say if there's a wedding or a big event in Hemming Plaza," Stake said.

There are plans to renovate everything, both downstairs and upstairs.

"In these areas are classrooms and also some technology labs, and the bones are basically good, so we would be just resurfacing all the floors," Stake said.

But not all the rooms up will be so easy to fix. Despite the challenges ahead, Stake said seeing the historic church transformed will be worth it.

"I think it's just a great city asset that can be used, and I think in terms of honoring God, it would do that," he said. "It'd be a very good use of this asset."

Stake said the nonprofit wants to keep as much of the original church as it can, including the stained glass windows and woodwork, as well as the organ, which Stake believes is the church's original organ.


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