SYKESVILLE — After 10 years of wandering, the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Council finally has a home.
Monday night marked the Knights of Columbus Council 7612's first meeting in their permanent facility, the Wade H. D. Warfield Building on Main Street.
"It's great to have someplace that's really ours that we can do with as we want," said council member Richard Unglesbee of Sykesville."It took a lot of hours and a lot of labor."
The $360,000 projectbegan in March, when the Knights bought the abandoned warehouse for $110,000 from Charles B. Mullins.
Mullins had hoped to turn the building -- most recently used to film a scene in John Waters' film "Cry-Baby" -- into a restaurant, said Jack G. Serio Jr., chairman of thecouncil's steering committee. Those plans eventually fell through.
Renovations to the council hall began in August, and the Knights took over the building on Dec. 21.
But the dream had been born much earlier, as the club moved among facilities owned by the American Legion, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Sykesville, the Freedom Fire Hall and others from its inception in 1980.
"These groups were very hospitable, but we couldn't do things we would normally do in our own place," Unglesbee said.
Money had been set aside for the building from the very beginning, said Serio.
"We've been raising funds for the last 10 years," he said. "We had looked at 10 or 12 (buildings) we thought would work."
However, the council still needs to raise about $250,000 to pay off a loan from Union National Bank.
"The project was called 'Vision 2000, a place to call home,' " Serio said. "We hope to have it paid for sometime in that year."
Fund-raisers, like Wednesday night bingo and a Super Bowl party on Jan. 27, will help pay for the project as well as support the Catholic fraternity's charities, which include the Carroll County Association for Retarded Citizens and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
"The main thrust of the Knights is charity," Serio said. "We will still continueour charitable works, but we still need to pay for this."
The first-floor hall, named the Sandosky Room after a former Knight who installed the first sidewalks in Sykesville and began the downtown revitalization, will be available for public affairs for up to 120 people.
"This is a real neat setting and is a departure from other facilities, like fire halls," said Vincent A. Campanella, council public relations person. "The place has character."
The mezzanine and balcony overlooking the hall will be used for bands and disc jockeys duringfunctions and non-smoking seating for bingo nights. A bar and meeting room for members is on the second floor, and the third floor eventually will house offices, a weight room and game room for members.
Serio, who spent every day of the renovations overseeing the site, said renovations to the century-old building replaced everything exceptthe exterior walls. A manually operated lift and some exposed brickin the stairwells are all that remain of the original structure.
"The building was in pretty rough shape," he said, noting that flooring on the first level had rotted out, and the balcony had to be extended 10 feet, removing the catwalks. "It's basically all brand new."