Community invited to give input on plans for old Holton school building

Wanda English Burnett

The mission of one woman is clear: to restore the old Holton school building and make it into an emergency/disaster relief shelter and more.

Phyllis Holman is the founder of the project that to some might seem monumental. To her it is as simple as following what God wants her to do.

“I thought God was calling me to mission work in Mexico,” she told The Versailles Republican. However, that wasn’t His plans. She went on to say that she was plainly shown she was to purchase the property at Holton and start a mission. “It’s not mine, it belongs to God,” she noted, naming the project “My Father’s House.”

The totally “by faith” purchase was made last fall with little work being able to be done over the winter months. This spring she began an assessment and knows there is a lot to do.

“I welcome community input,” she noted, saying she hopes people of the community will feel free to stop by, call or write her with their ideas.

While in sad disrepair now, the spacious facility boasts a full gymnasium, stage, space for tornado/disaster shelter, along with several individual rooms, restrooms and shower areas.

However, Holman sees the big picture and in it the end results. She says once refurbished, “My Father’s House’ will be available for retreats, conferences, supervised youth activities and more. She has a vision of a coffee shop that will be opened all night for truck drivers, local police and anyone who may be out late and just needs to relax while passing through the small town of Holton.

Holman says she knows the challenge is great and that it will take a lot of work, material and volunteers to get it ready. She also knows it probably won’t be done over night, unless a miracle of grand proportions takes place! But, she said she has purchased this property, the building and four acres, and will be renovating it “totally by faith”.

A big part of the project is having a shelter where people can go in case of disasters, whether they are manmade or natural. Holman has already contacted the Red Cross and is working with the local chapter. “Our mission is to provide food, shelter, and other needs to anyone who has been affected by a natural or manmade disaster,” she said.

As a way of introducing herself to the community and to have those interested in seeing what’s going on, she has a goal of having a family fun weekend early in August. The event will be held outdoors with lots of fun for children and families. Anyone interested in knowing more about this weekend is encouraged to contact Holman. “We would love for anyone who has special gifts or talents they would like to share to contact me,” she noted.

This weekend in August will be a grand opening of sorts to introduce the project to the community and allow them to become part of it, according to Holman. She said there have been a lot of rumors and speculation about what is going on at the school and she wants people to see for themselves. The weekend event is planned for August 5 and 6.

Holman says she believes a community should know their neighbors. “This makes it easier when a disaster strikes,” she noted.

While Holman knows there are major hurdles to cross, such as a new roof, heating and air conditioning unit and more, she also believes God is bigger. The end results will reflect a non-denominational project that is God’s building, according to Holman who was once a Holton resident who moved away for a few years. She now resides in Jennings County.
For those interested in seeing the project, becoming involved and/or talking to Holman you can contact her at 7043 W. US Hwy 50, Holton, or call 1-812-767-1462.

Pictured above Phyllis Holman shows a room inside the school she believes could be a coffee cafe someday. Below the once beautiful gym floor is ruined by years of the roof leaking. Holman has begun to take up the boards that were bowed and destroyed by the constant moisture. The first business to take care of is getting a new roof, and then the real renovation of the old Holton School can begin to take shape. Holman welcomes any input as to what could be done with the building and anyone who is willing to help is welcome.