On Saturday, volunteers were busy renovating the structure, which dates back the 1930s when it was a movie theater. They were on scaffolding removing wall materials, sweeping floors and removing debris to prepare for the full renovation.

The distance between vision and reality is often marked by hard work.

Members of the Paris First Baptist Church are proving that this summer. They have a vision of converting the former American Legion Post 221 building in a youth community center, but the road getting there will require lots of sweat equity.

On Saturday, volunteers were busy renovating the structure, which dates back the 1930s when it was a movie theater. They were on scaffolding removing wall materials, sweeping floors and removing debris to prepare for the full renovation.

“Currently, we are removing wall and ceiling covering that could hide mold and/or moisture so we can properly treat the ceiling, walls, and floor with Shockwave: a broad-spectrum hospital grade fungicide, virucide, mildewstat, sanitizer, disinfectant, and cleaner. After all the external ceiling and walls are exposed we will treat and seal the building and begin the remodeling process,” said the Rev. Wesley Hammond, pastor of the church.

Hammond, who spent Saturday on his knees chipping away at removing adhesive material from the floor of what was once the projection booth, does not have a timeline for completing the project.

“The final goal for the building is a place where people can connect,” he said. “We have talked about it being a multiuse facility for things such as game nights, light indoor sports activities — half-court basketball, volleyball — community movie nights, an after-school place for teens where they could do homework and hang out with friends, community concerts, a disaster relief shelter and wedding receptions. Of course all this would depend upon the availability of volunteers and community interest.”

The church purchased the building at auction from the American Legion post in May. With a dwindling list of active members and a limited treasury, and with major maintenance issues looming, selling the building was the only prudent option for the post. The church agreed to pay the minimum price of $10,000, and the process has now started to transfer ownership.

Hammond has estimated that with volunteer labor, First Baptist can overhaul the building for around $40,000 to $50,000 — $20,000 along for the heating and air conditioning system. And, he said, the church plans to continue using the commercial-quality kitchen in the building.

Hammond says the new facility is needed to help bring people together in the community.

“The final goal for the building is a place where people can connect,” Hammond said. “We have talked about it being a multiuse facility for things such as game nights, light indoor sports activities — half-court basketball, volleyball — community movie nights, an after-school place for teens where they could do homework and hang out with friends, community concerts, a disaster relief shelter and wedding receptions. Of course, all this would depend upon the availability of volunteers and community interest.”