Now & Then Volume 1, 2023 | Page 13

hasn ’ t been used for about three or four years while the city has pondered what they would like to do with the building . Homeschool children formerly used it as an open gym space , and middle school dances were also held there prior to its closure .
“ It was a very popular space ,” Arvin Van Zante , treasurer of the FPCC , says . “ But the city didn ’ t want to invest in repairing the ceiling if they were going to tear down the building .”
The gym ’ s closure has been a “ sore subject ” for those who used it regularly , Bruce Boertje adds . Boertje is a member of the FPCC and Historic Preservation Trust , a local nonprofit organization that works to preserve historical landmarks in Pella .
According to Arvin Van Zante , it was estimated that about 8,500 people used the gym annually , before its closure , including 370 different groups . At this time , FPCC ’ s main priority is to renovate the gym to meet both ADA and safety standards so it can be utilized by the community again .
“ We have visions for things that could make the building better . We just have to see if the community will support them ,” says Arvin Van Zante .
Chambers of the heart
In addition to the Heritage Gym , the Pella Community Center is home to Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium . The 339-seat
auditorium provides a space for theatrical and musical performances , in addition to classes and lectures , public meetings , political forums and special events .
“ According to his obituary , the building ’ s architect [ James Cox ], was an opera impresario and a theater person . He wanted to build buildings that would serve the theater and the public , which makes this building so unusual ,” Pati Van Zante says . “ It ’ s not like other high schools that are just classrooms with a gym and an auditorium . This was meant to be a hub for arts and culture from the get-go .”
In 1989 , the auditorium was dedicated to Joan Kuyper Farver after a multi-year renovation .
Like her family , Kuyper Farver dedicated her life to the betterment of the Pella community through philanthropic contributions . The renovation was made possible with a $ 438,000 grant from the Pella Rolscreen Foundation .
Today , the auditorium is used regularly by Union Street Players , an award-winning community theatre that produces three main stage shows each year . USP is made up of volunteers who love to immerse themselves in the creative world of the performing arts to provide local entertainment to the community .
“[ This space ] is really the only public auditorium of this nature that ’ s available for anyone who
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