Altrusa Wine, Dine and Tour brought history alive at Marymount

Diners at the event
Diners at the event

Saturday, March 23 the Altrusa Club of South Pierce County held its 9th annual Wine, Dine and Tour Event at the Marymount Event Center. This event helps the Altrusa Foundation fund scholarships in the Bethel and Franklin Pierce School Districts.

The sisters side of the chapel with the pipe organ
The sisters side of the chapel with the pipe organ

Tickets for the event were sold out in advance as people were excited to have the private evening tour of the LeMay cars and the very special chapel built by the Sisters of St. Dominic. The chapel is ornately decorated with marble altars, ceiling frescos and beautiful stained glass windows from Chartres France created by Gabriel Loire. The 1 inch thick slabs were created by traditional chisel and mallet method and cement was used in the channels rather than lead or tin solder. It was an old glass window method that folks didn’t think would last, but the night after the windows were installed, the Columbus Day storm hit. Many trees were lost, but the windows held firm.

The chapel altar with ceiling frescos and marbel mosaics
The Marymount chapel altar with ceiling frescos and marble mosaics

From 1923 to 1974, Marymount was a Military Academy for boys, taught by the Dominican Sisters. The LeMay family purchased it in 1991. The nuns still had access, but gradually all of them moved out. They began storing their car collection on the property in some of the out buildings, but preserving most of the main building. The property is now referred to as The LeMay Family Collection Foundation at Marymount Event Center to distinguish it from the LeMay- America’s Car Museum in Tacoma. They are open six days a week for tours of the cars, chapel, dormitories and classrooms.

Busy kitchen at Marymount
Karen Ansteth leads the busy kitchen at Marymount with her son Roger

Altrusa Business and Professional Women have been providing community service to the South Pierce County community since 1951. Literacy and scholarships are their main focus, but they have also participated in PLU’s Winterfest, Bethel and Franklin Pierce Daffodil Floats, the Family Renewal Shelter, Feed My Starving Children, books for Friends of the Library, and the LeMay Skateboard Park at Sprinker Recreation Center. The club also has a booth selling hot dogs at the annual LeMay Car Show and a High Tea in the summer on Spanaway Lake.WP_010059

(A special note for kids, the LeMay Skateboard Park at Sprinker will reopen for the season on April 1, 2013. )

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