SLIDESHOW: Nearly complete, Our Lady of Guadalupe gets ready to celebrate a dream
Our Lady of Guadalupe (OLG) is just about to make a 50 year dream come true. Opening near the highest point in the City of Seattle on May 27 is the OLG Parish Center and Alex J. Brunett Gymnasium. The gym's namesake former Archbishop of Seattle Alexander J. Brunett will attend and speak at the opening ceremonies.
The West Seattle Herald was granted exclusive access to the new building and toured it with OLG Administrator Frank Handler.
The church and Parsh Center are located at 35th s.w. and s.w. Myrtle in West Seattle near the highest elevation in the city (510 feet above sea level).
The $3.5 million project broke ground last July 18.
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The parish's Pastor, Father Jack Walmesley said," It's been a 50 year dream for the parish and a 10 year experience for myself as Pastor. I put in the bulletin this weekend that a few weeks ago I was out there, standing in the rain, just so aware of how many people helped make it happen. From the building committee to the finance committee to the campaign committee, to people who made contributions, it stands there as a tribute to the folks in the parish."
The building consists of a parish hall that functions like a gym. But thought went into the interior colors to make it more inviting including deep maroon Paperstone wall coverings and the use of a more deeply colored maple flooring not typically found in gymnasiums. The six basketball hoops also either lift or swing to the side to make the space more appropriate for wedding receptions, music or theater presentations.
The lighting can be dimmed down to 2% for "romantic Italian dinners", said Father Walmesley, or taken up to 100% for the gymnasium lighting.
The gym has eight basketball hoops and pull out bleachers with plastic seats.
The kitchen is a functional commercial style though it was built to be more of a "catering kitchen to begin with since functions these days are more catered." It has ranges, a commercial microwave, stainless steel counters and a dishwasher but no other high end gear. It's built with an eye toward the future however with all the gas and other elements in place when budgets make it possible to expand and improve it.
On the east side of the building is stage that has also uniquely been designed as a meeting space with the ability to partition that space with folding panels, "so for a small reception of 50 to 100 people we could hold it here or open up the entire space," said Handler. Those panels have a writable interior surface so classes, or other kinds of workshops could be conducted there.
Outside, adjacent to the 'Big Toy' play area is a small amphitheater where small performances and church functions like BBQ's can be staged. In the parking lot an easier drive through area where children can be dropped off and picked up with greater safety has been built. That parking lot will also function as an outdoor play area during the day and the basketball backboards and hoops as well as partially buried truck tires were retained and re-installed there.
The facility will be available for rental to non-profit groups only, and primarily parsishoners. They are in the process of hiring an outreach coordinator and the plan is to devote a certain number of hours per month to a group that "doesn't have access to this kind of facility," said Handler.
The entire project from the parking lot to the roof was built green in hopes of getting a LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000 . "Fortunately we have two parishioners who are architects who have offered their services in helping us accomplish this. With LEED there are two costs. The hard costs in buying energy efficient materials and equipment and the other cost is the documentation, certifying the building. That's more than 30% of the cost.
The church raised $2.4 million in 2007 toward their master plan goal of $6.2 million and are still seeking support. For individuals, the church implemented a 'pavers campaign' allowing people to buy a paving brick in the plaza are outside the east entry. Those are still available for $250, "or $350 if you want them facing up," Handler said laughing. For larger contributions the church has been soliciting grants from foundations, and having private receptions for individual donors but Handler noted that they have received significant support from bequests by loyal parishioners. One substantial bequest from Michael Hession is honored with a garden on the grounds.