Paris council member restoring abandoned church for community center and museum

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PARIS, Texas - Old buildings are not a rare site in Paris and as several of those buildings are slowly deteriorating, Councilwoman Sue Lancaster is fighting to keep Paris' history alive.

"We need to save our history, because that's who we are and that's where we came from." said Lancaster.

Lancaster was driving by one day and noticed the First Church of Christian Sciences had missing stain glass windows, from vandals taking and selling them for quick cash.

"I thought well this is going to stop, I'm going to stop this." said Lancaster.

Coming from a little town outside of Houston Lancaster recalls trying to start a historic part of town, but no history was remaining.

"Sadly when we looked around there was nothing left, we had to import from out in the country something historical." said Lancaster.

Lancaster researched and finally found the owner taking three meetings before she finally swayed him into selling her the 1917 building. The church was immediately erected after the Paris Fire of 1916.

Lancaster wants to use the building as a community center and an extension of the county museum.

"I thought well we can expand this into something useful instead of just a historic church, a historic church with a purpose." said Lancaster.

Lancaster says the restoration project will be challenging.

"I found only two or three pictures of the building on the outside, so I have a good view of what the outside looks like. The inside is a little hazier."

The building was rezoned to allow the museum and now awaits for tax free status. Upon approval the restoration will begin.

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