THE JACK KEROUAC FOUNDATION is offering the public a glimpse of its vision for the former Catholic church it hopes to develop into The Jack Kerouac Center, a performance venue, museum, educational center, and bookstore/café.
In advance of its capital fundraising phase, the foundation has posted site plans, drone-shot images, renderings by SCB and other materials at jackkerouaccenter.com. The site also offers visitors a link to make donations and explains the history of the iconic, Lowell-born author and his connection to the former St. Jean Baptiste Parish, a cornerstone of the city’s French-Canadian community.
“We are very energized by the opportunity to work with the Jack Kerouac Foundation to create a home for the museum and performance center that expresses the importance the City of Lowell played in Jack’s life and serves as a catalyst for the city’s vibrant arts scene” said Bryan Irwin, Principal at SCB. “Jack Kerouac was formed by his experiences growing up in the neighborhoods of Lowell and his relationship to the Catholic Church was both complicated and critical to understanding his work. We sought to reflect this in a design that strengthens and enhances the existing edifice and neighborhood while creating a new dialogue—a new way of seeing and interpreting this fabric.”
The former church, built in 1896, was where a young Kerouac served as an altar boy, as well as the site of his funeral in 1969. The church remained consecrated when it was temporarily closed in 1993 with the termination of St. Jean Baptiste Parish but became part of Nuestra Senora del Carmen Parish in 1994 to serve the area’s Latino population before being closed and deconsecrated in 2004. It remained shuttered until TMI Property Management & Development purchased it.
The Kerouac Foundation invited the public to see the building while celebrating Kerouac’s centennial in March, and has met with TMI owner Brian McGowan, as well as SCB, Existing Conditions 3D Laser Scanning, Aberthaw Construction Company, and directors and developers of such centers as the Grammy Museum, the National Steinbeck Center, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Woody Guthrie Center.
"We have put many things into motion this year and feel it’s time to share our detailed vision for the Jack Kerouac Center as we delve into the major fundraising it will take to make it a reality,” said Sylvia Cunha, Executive Director of the Jack Kerouac Foundation. “Once the world of Kerouac fans and the local community see what we’d like to do, we can move down the road to creating a hometown destination for visitors from far and wide.”
“While there are monuments honoring Kerouac in Lowell and other places, “says Jim Sampas, literary executor of the Jack Kerouac Estate, “there is no museum or performance center offering popular access to artistic performances and a wide range of archival materials touching on his life, work, and history as a product of Lowell. Visitors from around the world who come to re-trace his steps here deserve a place where they can see and experience how he was shaped, what he produced, and how he has influenced artists everywhere. What better place than the building where his funeral Mass was conducted and where he served for a time as an altar boy?”
The Jack Kerouac Foundation hopes the center not only serves as a welcoming hub for Kerouac pilgrims, but as a connective thread to the community, where artists of all stripes can perform and exhibit, and young writers of all ages from area schools can learn and share their craft.
About Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac was an American novelist, poet, and icon of the Beat movement born in Lowell, Massachusetts. His most famous book, “On the Road” (1957), still has broad cultural influence. In his work, he challenged conventional form and was part of the most important literary and artistic movement of the 1950s.
Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) is an award-winning architecture, interior design, and planning firm that practices nationally and internationally from offices in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle, offering expertise to clients and helping them achieve their goals, advance their mission, and create unique built environments. More info at www.scb.com.
About the Jack Kerouac Foundation:
The Jack Kerouac Foundation was formed in early 2022 to pursue funding for the establishment of a Jack Kerouac Museum, Performance, and Education Center in the magnificent former St Jean Baptiste church. It is where Jack served as an altar boy and also the site of his funeral mass in 1969. The proposed center is dedicated to furthering his legacy by showcasing the cultural impact he's had throughout the world. Our aim is to offer exhibits, performances, educational programs, and lectures, and serve as an anchor to the revitalization of the Acre section of Lowell, Massachusetts. THE JACK KEROUAC FOUNDATION officers comprise CEO: Jim Sampas; Executive Director: Sylvia Cunha; Board President: Christopher Porter; Board Vice-President: Michael Millner; Board Secretary: Steve Edington; and Board Treasurer Michael P Flynn. The Executive Board members are Suzanne Beebe, Deborah Belanger, Judith Bessette, Dave Ouellette, David Perry, Ryan Rourke, Sean Thibodeau, and Clifford J Whalen.
For more information please reach out to the Jack Kerouac Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org
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