Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Episcopal Church buys downtown block for archives

The Episcopal Church has bought a block in downtown Austin where it plans to build a facility to house its national archives and provide space for meetings, exhibits, research and other purposes.

The church purchased the block, now a parking lot bounded by Seventh, Eighth, Trinity and Neches streets, from Jimmy Nassour, an Austin real estate attorney. The purchase price was $9.5 million, said Mark Duffy, director of the Archives of the Episcopal Church.

The church, which borrowed against its endowment to buy the land, plans to launch a capital campaign next year to raise money to repay that loan and pay for the new facility. The cost of the project, which is in the "very preliminary" planning stages, will be almost $40 million, Duffy said.

The building probably will be five stories, with up to 70,000 square feet and a garage with some public spaces. Duffy said the start of construction is at least two years away.

In addition to archives and meeting space, the building will be a place "for Episcopalians nationally to gather and to study, reflect on and feel proud of their heritage," Duffy said.

"The idea is to build something that will be a visible presence for the Episcopal Church in the community, as well as a place where church members and the public can explore issues of vital importance to the church today," Duffy said.

The archives — the official repository for the church's papers, electronic records, photographs, memorabilia and artifacts — are now housed in three locations in Austin, including leased space at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, and at one site in New York City.

More here-


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