St. Mary's Restoration: with the help of a grant from ECGRA

“We live and work in the East side of Erie and we care about this area,” said Sister Mary Miller, director of Emmaus Ministries, “and that’s why we were intent on preserving buildings like St. Mary’s school and using them for programs that revitalize the neighborhood. For that reason, we’re thankful for this generous grant.”

Along with supporting other East Bayfront neighborhood non-profits in Erie, the Erie County Gaming and Revenue Authority (ECGRA) granted $100,000 for Emmaus Ministries to purchase all new windows and install a new bathroom in the St. Mary’s building. The press conference announcing the grants was held at St. Mary’s Studio: Space to Create on July 24th.

Mayor Joe Schember commented on Sister Mary’s sentiment: “Our East side has been ignored and there’s no good reason for that. But now we’re paying attention to it,” and especially with the attention of the ECGRA board and this grant, he continued, “we’re doing a lot of great things.”

Mayor Schember was in attendance along with other representatives of the Erie city and county governments, Senator Dan Laughlin, the board of ECGRA, and other recipients of the ECGRA Anchor Building Grant Program on the East Bayfront: including Grace Church, the Bayfront East Side Taskforce, the East Erie Core Neighborhood Renewal project, Preservation Erie, ServErie, and the PACA Building. Overall, ECGRA granted over $300,000 in “this round of investments” to support local nonprofits revitalizing buildings in the area.

Emmaus Ministries first bought the St. Mary’s building in order to accommodate its expanding after-school feeding program for children, Sister Gus’ Kids Cafe. At that time, Sarah Reeds Children’s Center held classes on the top two floors of the building while the Kids Cafe occupied the first level. In 2014, Sarah Reed moved to a new location and the idea of opening the space to local artists was born.

The building adapted a new name, The Studio at St. Mary’s: Space to Create and began welcoming innovative programs and artists to help revitalize and positively impact downtown and the East side of Erie.

For more, please see the articles of Erie Times News and Erie News Now.