Four new buildings plus a 9,000 square-foot auditorium that is nearly complete at Caraway Conference Center will greatly expand the facility’s ability to serve North Carolina Baptists.
The 299-seat auditorium is located in front of Caraway’s existing administration and guest room wings.
The structure is expected to be ready in May 2015, said Jimmy Huffman, Caraway’s director.
BSC photo by Chad Austin
With the main Caraway Conference Center building in the distance, a group nears Hollifield Hall, which is currently in construction to serve as the center’s auditorium for conferences and special events.
Two new group housing buildings, a new classroom building and a new multiple-purpose building now stand in Caraway’s new Awesome Children’s Outdoor Recreation and Nature Study section (ACORNS), located separately from the main conference center and Camp Caraway. Caraway is located on Caraway Mountain Road in Sophia, near Asheboro. The facilities are spread across forested, rolling hills.
Funds for the expansion have come partly from Caraway’s New Beginnings capital campaign and from the sale of Hollifield Leadership Center, a 30-acre conference facility on Lake Hickory, near Conover.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina purchased Hollifield in 2000 for about $3 million, but low use by non-profit organizations and churches did not sufficiently cover the cost of operating the facility.
In 2013 the convention sold Hollifield to North Carolina Boy’s Academy, a branch of Teen Challenge that has established a Christian, Bible-based ministry to boys on the site. The $2.5 million purchase price will be paid over five years, following a $250,000 down payment.
Caraway’s new $1.3 million auditorium will be known as Hollifield Hall in honor of Gwendolyn Hollifield, who provided a significant gift to establish Hollifield Leadership Center.
She was a long-time member of First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and served on the board of Gardner-Webb University from 1992-95.
Hughey and Gwendolyn Hollifield provided generous gifts to Gardner-Webb University and North Carolina Baptist institutions and agencies over the years.
“Hollifield Hall will be a really nice building,” Huffman said. It will include state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment and a covered veranda so guests can load and unload out of the weather.
Caraway’s existing auditorium will be divided into two large conference rooms, providing more flexibility in hosting conferences and other events, Huffman said.
In the new ACORNS section, two new group-housing buildings have been completed and were dedicated Oct. 28, 2014.
Each of the identical buildings can accommodate 40 guests in bunk beds. The buildings were named the Jim and Nancy Nell Jacumin Retreat Lodges. Baptist layman and retired businessman Jim Jacumin provided a significant part of the $750,000 construction cost for the two lodges.
The Joyce Classroom building was created by adapting an existing building and is named for Margaret Joyce, who provided a significant part of the renovation costs, Huffman said.
Joyce, a retired educator, is a longtime and generous supporter of various ministries such as church music, children’s ministries and college scholarships. A multi-purpose building will provide classrooms for meetings and dining area.
“ACORNS will be a fully self-contained area that church groups and others can book to hold their retreats and conferences, with accommodations in the Jacumin Retreat Lodges and space for meeting and eating in the other two buildings,” Huffman said.
ACORNS is the name of the popular environmental education program hosted at Caraway. It became fully operational earlier this year, Huffman added.
While visitors at Caraway will focus mostly on the buildings, Huffman said a lot of work was required that is mostly out of sight.
For example, an eight-acre septic field was required to handle the new construction.
“This was a major investment, but one which will handle present and future growth,” Huffman said. In addition to all the new construction, driveways have been widened, drainage has been expanded and electrical service has been upgraded.
Huffman said the New Beginnings capital campaign is continuing. Overall plans call for a stand-alone housing building to provide an additional 12 to 16 bedrooms for guests.
If individuals or churches are interested in donating to the New Beginnings capital campaign, please contact Jimmy Huffman at [email protected].