Bible conference center dormitory complex demolished

ELLENTON — A two-story dormitory complex once used as part of a Bible conference center at 7215 U.S. 301 N. was demolished Wednesday.

A portion of the complex, which included two buildings, was built more than 50 years ago. The buildings had been condemned by the county after falling into disrepair.

The property was originally developed by Lawrence B. Brunk, chairman of the Bible Holiness Church, who also developed a portion of Colony Cove, according to Herald archives and members of New Hope Baptist Church.

New Hope acquired the property with its founding in 1974 and used the two-story complex as Sunday school and office space, said long-time member Denver Moore.

In 2002, the New Hope congregation moved to a new sanctuary on Old Tampa Road and sold the U.S. 301 North property to developers.

Over the years, a number of projects were planned for the property, including a Tires Plus and Fuel Depot in 2003.

In 2007, Peter and George Haralabakos of Calgary, Canada, the current property owners, were making plans to develop a 38,080-square-foot shopping center on the property, just as the economy began tanking.

A Bed, Bath & Beyond and a Linens-N-Things were two of the businesses being considered for the proposed shopping center.

To date, none of the proposed retail developments have been built and My Father’s House, founded in 2004, continues to use the church building for its worship services.

The Rev. Anne Barber, pastor of My Father’s House, said her congregation obtained county approval in June to build a new sanctuary on rural property off Erie Lane.

The church members are still working on fundraising for their proposed new sanctuary but the site approvals are good for four years.

“We’re going to be a country church, surrounded by cows and cow pasture,” Barber said Wednesday, as she watched demolition of the dorms.

The U.S. 301 North property still has sentimental value to some.

“It’s where I came to know the Lord,” Moore said.

But he added that the dorm buildings were in such bad shape that it was time for them to come down.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.