St. Luke’s Dedicates New Undercroft, Community Center Space
Downtown Jamestown now has a brand new, all-inclusive multi-purpose meeting space with a design combining elements both modern and traditional.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 410 N. Main St., held a special Sunday service celebrating the completion and dedication of its new Undercroft, which is intended to be used as both the church’s fellowship hall and a community center.
The brief service was followed by a reception that culminated in a ribbon cutting symbolizing the new space’s grand opening to the congregation and general public. In fact, the space already serves as a meeting place for several local groups and organizations including Kim Carlson’s A Fresh Start, the Mental Health Association’s Refugee Recovery, the Eagle’s Nest peer support group, and local Girl Scout troops.
Presiding of the service and reception was the Rev. Luke Fodor, St. Luke’s pastor, who said it is hoped that the space can serve as a home for even more groups moving forward.
“Often groups use a church basement and it feels like a basement, but our goal was to create a community center that would provide the ennobling and enriching physical environment you might expect from a church,” Fodor said. “So often churches invest all of their money in their upstairs worship space, but for us, as a corner of downtown, we wanted to invest in the community.”
So this investment is about creating a space where folks who may not have a church or want a church can still have a church that’s theirs,” he continued. “Not to sound disparaging but there aren’t too many spaces downtown with integrity, so we wanted to create a space that was full of value.”
Fodor said the Undercroft had last been renovated by the church in the early ’50s, with the aim of modernizing it from its Victorian roots. He said little to no work has been done on the space, aside from maintenance, since that time, and so it was again time to update the area with a new appearance and modern-day conveniences such as air conditioning and Wi-Fi.
Fodor said St. Luke’s began a fundraising campaign in September 2016 to raise $1 million for a three-phase capital project. Having raised approximately $975,000 of the $1 million goal, the Undercroft was completed as Phase Two of the project — with Phase One being the creation of a parking lot and Phase Three external work to repoint the church building in order to adjust water penetration in the tower area.
Work was undertaken by several local agencies including: Bemus Bay Planners, project architect; Empire Development, general contractor; and Trinity Electric, electrical. Donor lists and a breakdown of the various contractors and suppliers were distributed to attendees of Sunday’s reception.