With the Immaculate Conception School and church now completely moved to a new location off Palmer Road, the former parish grounds on Main Street in Columbia are ready to experience even more change.
In addition to the convent building being converted into a salon, cafe and apartments, the church itself has been enjoying its new role as well.
Last summer, the Main Street Abbey complex saw the former Immaculate Conception Church cathedral renovated and used as a venue for weddings and receptions.
A pavilion has also been constructed near this event center to provide a place for patrons to relax and socialize while the wedding space is converted into a reception area.
The inside of the abbey has church-themed decorations, including stair rail posts made from parts of a pipe organ, confessional rails at the foot of a bar area and bathroom stalls that resemble confessional booths.
The barback is a repurposed piece of furniture from the priest room.
The abbey is not only for weddings, though. It can hold up to 220 guests and is also equipped for music concerts, performance art shows, business meetings, holiday parties and conferences. It also features a warming kitchen for event caterers.
Owner and developer Gregg Crawford anticipates the second phase of renovations will begin with turning the old church rectory into loft-style apartments and former ICS classrooms into hotel rooms.
Crawford believes construction will begin in late winter or early spring, with the apartments completed first and hotel rooms inside the former school finished by the end of 2020.
“All of the lofts and rooms will be different,” Crawford noted as a draw for people looking for a unique experience.
“Over 90 percent of our weddings were from St. Louis,” Crawford cited as one reason for the addition of hotel accommodations, adding that this property as a whole “will be an entire entertainment district.”
Crawford said that he wants the area to eventually become a “one-stop shop” for people who want to use the site for a variety of events.
Once completed, he wants one of the main attractions for out-of-town customers to be the convenience of on-site amenities such as a planned steak and seafood restaurant, craft brewery, meeting rooms, gift shop and movie theatre in different areas of the former school building.
“When it’s finished, we’ll have just about everything” for people to have an immersive experience without the need to drive from one place to another, Crawford explained.
He is also planning two “escape rooms” with alternating themes that will be viewable from the brewery so that people can watch their friends navigate puzzles without being active participants.
While the entire complex will take several years to be fully realized, Crawford says he is happy with the progress so far.
The Cafe on the Abbey, Colour Bar Hair Studio and Main Street Abbey are all open now.
For more information, call 618-719-2335 or visit www.mainstreetabbey.com.