Right now, the building that long ago housed Moody Motor Company in Independence is mostly empty, though it's a far cry from the vacant structure it had been for nearly a decade.
Peace Pavilion, which for 22 years has been housed part way up the maze of ramps inside the Community of Christ Auditorium on Walnut Street, will be moving a couple blocks to the former Sunshine Center building on Lexington Avenue.
Andy Kroesen, executive director of nonprofit Peace Pavilion, a subsidiary of Peace Pathways, said he hopes to be moved in by the end of the year, although it might be 2019 before that takes place.
Regardless, Peace Pavilion will have more than three times the space it had in the Auditorium – from 3,000 square feet to more than 10,000 – and Kroesen and volunteers have a detailed vision on how the space will be filled.
“We used the same foundation of the existing Peace Pavilion,” Kroesen said, referring to exhibits and activities centered around the four major concepts of peace – for me, for us, for everyone and for the planet.
There will also be a community room (with kitchen) that can be used as an event space, teen room, meeting room, toddler and mother rooms, the Peace Theater for introducing groups on the tour and the Peacemakers Room for concluding tours.
Many rooms are marked with colored tape to indicate where displays or activities will be, along with printouts on the walls used for preview purposes during a community sneak peek last Friday evening.
“We've been working with a committee for about one and a half years,” Kroesen said about forming ideas on how to fill the various rooms. “People from education, health care workers, artists, the building trades.”
The building at 607 Lexington Ave. had been used by the early education provider Sunshine Center from 1991 until July 2009, when Sunshine Center consolidated to its new facility on Salisbury Road (and later was bought by the Independence School District).
Ken and Cindy McClain purchased the building in late 2016 and had some initial cleaning done, and Peace Pavilion has been leasing the building since late 2017 with the understanding of eventually owning it, Kroesen said.
The last several months have meant a lot of elbow grease as they started a campaign toward a $1.25 million goal ($750,000 in capital costs, $250,000 for operations and $250,000 for an endowment). A lot of work took place in the community room, where volunteers pulled off the linoleum floor and stained the floor a dark blue and gray, replaced ceiling tiles and added a base trim. There are still cabinets to be removed and some walls to be knocked down. Some in-kind gifts will help the cause, as well.
“Lots and lots of cleaning; you can imagine after nine years (of being vacant),” Kroesen's wife Loretta said. “We try to make every dollar stretch.”
Kroesen said some of the activities also are adult-friendly, and while the Peace Pavilion has some natural association with Community of Christ, all exhibits and activities are non-religious based, allowing for school group tours to learn or enhance life skills such as dealing with strong emotions, conflict resolution, understanding diversity and environmental sustainability.
“So, anybody of any faith or no faith at all can feel comfortable,” Kroesen said. “These are lessons that can be applied regardless of faith.”
In addition to being able to accommodate larger or more groups – 40 is about the max now – the move to Lexington Avenue should also make the Peace Pavilion more visible to the general public, they said.
“There's so many people that have driven by the Auditorium and said 'I never knew it was here,'” Loretta Kroesen said.