Polish Heritage Center in Santa Maria, Texax, Ready for Visitors!
There is an old phrase that the longest part of any journey begins with a single step. For the Polish Heritage Center at Panna Maria, that first step began in 2008 when Bishop John Yanta first conceived of how to remember our immigrant ancestors. Prompted by Providence, Bishop continued this discernment. He began to ask certain professionals how to go about bringing this discernment to fruition. By chance, he called on an acquaintance, a designer named Steve Harding, who had impressed him with work done in Sarita,
Texas, for the Kenedy Memorial Foundation.
Bishop Yanta provided Steve Harding the Blue Book, which was a compilation of Bishop’s Polishness. The book was an aid to Steve in his task of bringing Bishop’s vision to life. Once absorbed, Steve designed the concept that ultimately was given to Morkovsky AIA to draw the plans that would become a reality.
In April of 2016, with the clearing and ground breaking for the construction, the project began. The task of constructing the building itself went to MJ Boyle Construction. Day by day, the construction progressed. The ground was prepared, forms laid out, the floor was poured, walls went up, and the trusses for the roof went up one by one. The structure of the Heritage Center would eventually be “dried in” with the roofing laid in place. The exterior of the walls had the water barrier installed, the cast stones put in place, and the doors and windows installed. From the outside, the Center looked “finished.” But nothing could be further from the truth. In many ways, the hardest work lay just ahead.
In 2018, Keller-Martin was contracted to finish the “inside” of the Center. Technology is funny. It has the strange problem of advancing. If you plan something today, it could be outdated tomorrow. Between the time when the initial plans were drawn, a number of the systems that were part of the Heritage Center had advanced. Updates and revisions then needed to be inserted into the plans.
As the Heritage Center began to near its completion, the next challenge was one that we all are still struggling with – COVID. As this completion was approaching, a large number of scenarios were studied and explored. Many different plans and dates where considered, all depending on what safety procedures were needed and could be reasonably developed for the occasion. With all of these concerns in mind, the plans for the opening could finally be made.
Through this entire process, not enough thanks can be said for the many of you who have supported and contributed to the ongoing work of making this possible! From the beginnings, to now, and into tomorrow, this is your Center. This Center will remain here as a testament to our immigrant ancestors who suffered and sacrificed. They offered their blood, sweat, and tears, so their children and their children’s children could know a better life.
To our ancestors and to you, we say
Thanks Be to God and Thank You!
John S. Wojtasczyk
Polish Heritage Center at Panna Maria Foundation
P.O. Box 25, Panna Maria, TX, 78144
Tax ID: 46-0561240. A 501(c) (3) organization.