Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
On May 17, 2013, the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation acquired the property located at 602 Green Avenue in Orange, Texas, from the First Baptist Church of Orange, Texas. The FBC congregation had previously vacated its downtown campus and relocated to its new facility on MLK in northwest Orange.
The property acquired by the Foundation is adjacent to both the Stark Museum of Art and The W.H. Stark House, which are two of the venues that comprise the Foundation’s STARK Cultural Venues. The property is also proximate to other STARK Cultural Venues, including Stark Park and the Frances Ann Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts, as well as to the Foundation’s administrative office.
“This acquisition provides an ideal opportunity for the Stark Foundation to advance its mission to enrich the quality of life in the area through educational programming in art, nature, history and culture resources,” said Walter G. Riedel III, Stark Foundation President and CEO. “The property will become the center of all of the STARK Cultural Venues, both as an expanded educational facility as well as a small event facility.”
The location will now be known as “The Center for STARK Cultural Venues” or “CSCV”. In addition to accommodating additional educational programming needs, the CSCV will enable the STARK Cultural Venues to provided even greater membership benefits to its members, by serving as a centralized location for members-only events, receptions and programs.
After an evaluation period, determinations will be made as to any renovations that may be made at the Center for STARK Cultural Venues. According to Riedel, preservation of the former church sanctuary building located on the corner of 5th and Green on the property is a priority, given the prominence of the structure in the downtown Orange landscape for nearly 100 years.
“It is our understanding that the sanctuary was flooded and damaged during Hurricane Ike in 2008, was not repaired and has not been inhabited since that time,” he said. “Despite the current condition, it is the Foundation’s intent to keep the sanctuary building intact if at all possible so that it may be enjoyed by current and future generations.” Plans are to update and utilize the multi-purpose, Family Life Center space on the property as well. One change has already occurred with the placement of a CSCV sign in the marquee along Green Avenue.
“As a downtown stakeholder that cares about the community, the Foundation will do its part through its properties to ensure that the area remains both attractive and viable,” Riedle said. “The STARK Cultural Venues, coupled with recent and ongoing additions to the Lamar State College-Orange campus and the City’s new Riverfront Pavilion and Boardwalk, make downtown Orange an appealing place to go and enjoy, and all of this will only be enhanced by the addition of the Center for STARK Cultural Venues.”