Victory Arts Center
Texas| Posted: 12/21/2005
For several years the Our Lady of Victory Convent and girls’ boarding school in Fort Worth, Texas stood empty, unused and abandoned. Changing needs, organizational mission and an aging membership caused the Order of the Sister of Saint Mary of Namur to vacate the building. Five years later, the Sisters had secured a demolition permit to eliminate the perceived liability of the building. That’s when a concerned group of community volunteers sprang together to form Historic Landmarks, Inc. (HLI) a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing endangered historic properties. HLI acquired the building one week before the wrecking ball was due to hit and spent the next two years working with the community to develop a concept for the adaptive reuse of the building. Ultimately, the group opted to rehab the building into artist live/work space named the Victory Arts Center. During the first three years of the project’s planning, HLI held a yearly Haunted House event, utilizing artist and community talents to raise initial funding. To assist with predevelopment costs incurred prior to construction closing, HLI received a $302,500 loan from the Inner City Ventures Fund. The loan will be repaid by the historic tax credit equity investment.
The Our Lady of Victory Convent and boarding school was constructed in 1909-1910 on prairie land three miles south of the rapidly developing city of Forth Worth. It is of the Gothic Revival style, with a red pressed brick façade and white limestone trim. Designed by prominent Fort Worth architectural firm, Sanguinet & Stats, it will be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the 70,000 square foot building is part of an inner-city residential area, approximately two miles from Fort Worth’s central business district. After a long period of disinvestment, the surrounding neighborhood is experiencing renewed market interest and incremental growth. It is scheduled to be part of a City-sponsored mixed-use Urban Village Center.
The five-story Victory Arts Center will feature 48 apartment lofts, eight artist studios, galleries, a theater and performing arts space that will be completely dedicated to artists, both resident and non-resident. Former classrooms will be converted to one- and two-bedroom loft-style apartments, ranging from 750 to 1,750 square feet and renting for $500 to $1,500. Eight of the units will be rented to tenants whose income is no more than 80% of area median. The chapel will be converted into a 3,500-square-foot performing-arts space that will retain its vaulted, plaster ceiling and maple floors. A 2,500 square foot auditorium will also be transformed into a theater/meeting/teaching center. New brass chandeliers and sconces will be installed to closely match the originals. A catering kitchen will also be added, making it possible to host social functions for 100 to 215 people.
COMMUNITY AND PRESERVATION IMPACT
ICVF funds were a natural fit for this project in light of its service to the lower-income artist community, the inner-city revitalization impact and the cultural impact its presence will make on the surrounding neighborhood and greater Fort Worth. Its location within the walls of the former Our Lady of Victory Convent also serves the important function of restoring dignity to this impressive historic landmark.
For more information contact:
National Trust Loan Funds