CHRISTIANSBURG — An old downtown church’s transformation into the heart of a college campus will accentuate the town’s center, those associated say.
Ignite-Life Pacific College will hold classes in the space that was formerly Main Street Baptist Church this fall.
With a lot of help from private donations, the buildings that made up the church’s campus are being re-shaped and re-invented. Large classrooms, a new library and open meeting spaces are scattered throughout the building campus. What was once the main sanctuary had its pews torn out and replaced with chairs in what will soon become a performance venue available for rent to the greater community.
“The building has been speaking to us as we’ve gone,” the college’s president, Mike Larkin, said.
That much is clear in a space that students and faculty call the Great Road Hall, which is used as a transformative classroom space and will soon have a wedding in it. Originally, the ceilings in the oldest part of the church campus were low so Larkin and the others planned to bring them up a bit.
They kept going and going until decades-old ceilings with their original wood were revealed. The ceilings were restored and some damaged pieces were replaced to create what Larkin said people taking tours of the space find “breathtaking,” he said.
The space has become a place that can be rented out for meetings and events. Soon, Larkin hopes to host concerts in downtown Christiansburg inside the space. He said students will be able to work at various events to earn some extra money as well as gain training experience.
The goal, Larkin said, is to not only cultivate learning in the school’s students, but also to create a central meeting space that can be used by all in the New River Valley.
“We know we’re small,” Larkin said. “But we don’t want students to feel like they’re going to college in a church basement.”
The property, which includes three structures totaling about 22,000 square feet and a 109-space parking lot, was purchased in March by On Main Street Inc., a nonprofit organization that Larkin said he, as well as a couple who’ve invested in the college and a member of the college’s board of directors, have founded.
It was purchased last March for $500,000 and is assessed at more than $1.3 million, according to county property…