AP NEWS

Iowa church renovated into event center

November 18, 2018

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Wisconsin’s Chaz Myhre and Steve Stoll love to entertain and a great evening for them is filled with friends, food and good conversation. So it is not surprising that after they relocated to Burlington in 2013, they decided to build a business on their party proclivities.

That decision was to involve sweat equity, long sleepless nights and a drain of personal savings. The result of the effort was October’s grand opening of the Regal On The Hill Event Center.

Regal On The Hill is housed in a Burlington landmark — the former St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. The church first opened its doors in 1871 and served the storied Irish community of the old Hibernia neighborhood. At its busiest, St. Patrick’s served 800 parishioners.

Changing demographics led the local Catholic diocese to shutter the church and in 2002 the building was slated for demolition. But Burlington’s Heritage Trust, a non-profit preservation group, stepped in and rescued and repurposed the red brick building.

The Heritage Trust renamed the building Hibernia Hall and, using volunteer labor, operated it as an event center available for private parties and business gatherings.

But this year, the building’s party potential was upgraded when Myhre and Stoll decided to purchase the building from Heritage Trust and open Regal On The Hill, The Hawk Eye reported . Design ideas and hard work slowly reconfigured the old church and when Myhre and Stoll celebrated their grand opening there was little in the building that would echo the building’s ecclesiastical roots.

The building’s exterior sets the event center’s tone with the attractive weathered red brick exterior telling visitors they have arrived at a historically significant structure. A spacious parking lot and large, well-manicured green space also contribute to Regal On The Hill’s welcoming vibe.

The building’s interior is striking with a 2,600 square foot main hall anchored by a polished hardwood floor and taupe colored walls that give way to a vaulted ceiling. Large decorative light fixtures and window treatments impart warmth to the room.

One wall of the main hall is dominated by a curtained stage and doors that lead to a caterer’s kitchen. But not all of the building’s offerings are apparent with a casual glance.

Three high efficiency air conditioners and three electric heaters with their “smart” thermostats maintain a comfortable interior temperature regardless of weather’s worst. State-of-the-art LED light fixtures contribute a warm ambiance but can also be easily programmed to bathe the room in a variety of vibrant color tones as selected by the party hosts.

Co-owner Myhre explained that the pair’s adoption of the old Hibernia Hall began with their interest in Burlington’s architectural inheritance.

“Steve was serving on the board of the Heritage Trust and he came home one evening from a meeting where a plan to sell the building had been raised,” he said. “He asked me if I thought we should take it on and after thinking about it for a few minutes, I said ... ‘We love throwing parties. Let’s give it a try.’”

Myhre’s day job is on the staff of Hope Haven while Stoll is a building contractor. But once the commitment to Regal On The Hill had been made, the two found every spare moment wrapped up the building.

“It seemed like we were here every weekend and every night for the two months it took us to get ready,” Stoll said. “I especially remembered being up against the ceiling — thirty-feet up and swinging from a body harness while I painted.”

Myhre added: “There was no way I was going to be able to climb around up there. So all my painting was limited to as high as I could reach.”

Stoll’s and Myhre’s attention to detail is not limited to building improvements for they offer their event customer’s a full range of services. All tables, chairs and linens are provided by Regal and caterers have easy access to a functioning kitchen

Event packages are offered at three levels and for the most basic offering, party hosts are responsible for all setup and cleanup. Upgrades are then offered that include the services of a wedding planner, attendance of the event, setup and cleanup by Regal personal.

Myhre adds that party hosts have the space for three days, allowing for party setup and cleanup.

Regal On The Hall is ideally suited to handle gatherings with up to 150 guests. This allows the center to be cost competitive when compared to other local event halls that are sized for larger crowds.

On a recent afternoon the hall was being readied for a baby shower with table decorations reflecting the event’s theme. But Myhre and Stoll said the building will accommodate a wide range of meetings and parties. The old St. Patrick’s tradition as a community gathering place has been preserved.

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Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com

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