Originally created 02/22/98

Center holds centennial gala



More than 450 people came to celebrate the Sacred Heart Cultural Center's centennial at a gala Saturday.

"My mama and daddy were married here. They got married at 6 a.m. so they could catch the 7:30 Georgia Railroad train to New Orleans," said Brian Mulherin, who was the master of ceremonies for the evening. "I was baptized in the baptismal back there."

Many of the founding members' descendants shared such stories during the gala's social hour.

Bill and Jack Price reminisced of their days as altar boys in the church during the 1940s, and Kay Rhodes Owens expressed her pride in her maternal and paternal grandparents, who were among the founders of the church.

Many marveled at the recent renovations, and others expressed their thanks to the Knox family whose generosity saved the once-doomed structure.

"Mr. Knox did a beautiful thing for the community," said Bill Price.

For some, it was a reunion of sorts. About 50 members of the Hagler family attended the gala.

"My grandfather and his brother-in-law did the brick work on the church," said Jack Hagler. "This is a time for us all to get together and see the beauty created by the Knox family."

After a social hour, a slide show depicting the history of the church was presented, from its inception to its closing and subsequent restoration and reopening as a cultural center.

Then guests could dance the night away to the sounds of All That Jazz.

Tickets for Saturday's event were $75 per person or $125 per patron. Proceeds from the gala will go toward an endowment fund for the ongoing maintenance of the center, said gala co-chairwoman Marcie Wilhemi.

"The receptions and other events for the day-to-day expenses," she said, adding upkeep on the 100 year-old building can be costly.

Jeff Knox said he hopes the weekend's events will raise awareness of Sacred Heart.

"The main purpose is to get the whole community behind it and support it in other ways," he said.

The weekend celebration continues at 2 p.m. today with a tea and anniversary concert featuring the University of Georgia Men's Glee Club and Accidentals. Admission is $10.