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Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Public invited to see center

Ex-school building turned into venue for conferences, retreats, other events

By Tom Stankard

The new Montezuma Retreat House, an annex of the Spiritual Center of Maria Stein. . .

MONTEZUMA - The public is invited to tour the new Spiritual Center of Montezuma, an annex of the Spiritual Center of Maria Stein.
An open house slated for 2-7 p.m. June 20-21 will allow people to see the completed renovations of the facility that previously was Celina City Schools' Franklin Building, Spiritual Center director Robin Goettemoeller said. The center is located at 6732 State Route 219.
Both the Maria Stein and Montezuma spiritual centers provide opportunities for spiritual growth, social development and community services. They offer a place for individual and group programs and retreats.
"Come see what all the excitement has been about," she said. "We hope to see you there."
The large building housed Mercer County Head Start for about seven years before school district officials moved the program to the Eduction Complex in Celina and put the building on the auction block. The Spiritual Center purchased the building last summer with its bid of $185,000.
The Spiritual Center's nine-member board had been contemplating the construction of new conference rooms at the Maria Stein location prior to learning about the sale of the Franklin Building. Goettemoeller said leaders have been forced to turn away business due to lack of space.
She recalled praying one "Hail Mary" after another during the bidding process and asking Mary to "watch over us" during the renovation process. When first seeing the interior of the building, Goettemoeller said she thought, "This isn't so bad."
The hardest part was figuring out what should go where, she said while standing in the entryway, looking at mural of Jesus Christ above.
"We wanted to maximize the space," she said. "We just kept rethinking it and asking, 'What about this?' "
Bruns Building and Development of St. Henry helped them with the design and construction process. The existing heating system and well had to be replaced, which were two of the most costly repairs in the sizable renovation project, Goettemoeller said.
Many walls of former classrooms were torn down, and plumbing was installed to make living quarters for overnight retreats, Goettemoeller said. The building features six private rooms and bathrooms, two dorm rooms with 52 beds and two dorm bathrooms with six showers.
Down the hall, classrooms were converted into three conference rooms. More walls had to be gutted to expand the kitchen and make space for the dinning room that can sit 120 people.
The large chapel contains several donated items, among them the pews, which can accommodate 120 people.
New carpeting has been installed throughout the building, replacing the tile. All that remains of the former school building's interior is the gym and the stage, which were repainted, Goettemoeller pointed out. These features, she hopes, will attract younger people, because at the Maria Stein location, kids have to go outside or play in the large garage.
Outside, the building is surrounded by 5 acres of green space with parks and walking trails, she said.
Goettemoeller thanked the many donors who helped make the renovation process a success.
"This was a lot of work, but it turned out really nice. It was very worth it," she said.
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