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St. Therese’s Retreat Center | Columbus Landmarks

2020 Most Endangered Sites

St. Therese’s Retreat Center

Year Built: 1931
Address: 5277 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43213
Owner: Catholic Diocese of Columbus

St. Therese’s Retreat Center has offered hospitality for group spiritual retreats for almost 90 years. The retreat center was established as a quiet and restful place of peace by Bishop James J. Hartley, who was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John A. Watterson in 1882 in St. Joseph Cathedral and installed as Bishop of Columbus in 1903. The 8-acre retreat center features a Romanesque style stone chapel modeled after small European churches, 54 bedrooms, outdoor Stations of the Cross and a grotto. Also on this site remains a Deshler Family residence that pre-dates the retreat. The Deshlers were one of the founding families of Columbus and owned property at Broad & High for first a home, then the Deshler Block including the Deshler Bank, and later the glamorous Deshler Hotel.

Why is this site endangered?

St. Therese’s Retreat Center closed on June 30, 2020. If sold, the property will be a prime development target located in a rare, unexploited land area. However, the Columbus Catholic Diocese reports that the retreat center is in utilization with different temporary uses.

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Justine – May 16, 2020

What a shame if this beautiful property were to be destroyed and replaced with the “new”! In Europe building have stood for thousands of years but here it seems we have no respect for older, beautiful buildings. New is not always better!

Carla kazmierczak – August 24, 2022

My husband did all of the inside and outside maintenance at the retreat for 24.5 years until his retirement 9 years ago. He is heartbroken at the closing of this beautiful property that he put his heart and soul into. Please try to save this beautiful blessed property.

Susan McMullen – May 19, 2020

Destruction of this beautiful chapel would be a tragedy. This country needs to preserve the architecture of its history and its people who created this special place to worship God.

Susan McMullen – May 19, 2020

Destruction of this chapel would be a tragedy. This country needs to preserve the architecture of its history and its people who created this special place to worship God.

Tanaka – June 23, 2020

Please don’t destroy such a beautiful place of prayer

Anita – May 20, 2020

This sacred place has more than architectural significance and is important to save. What a wonderful gift it would be if someone, or group of someones, would purchase St. Therese’s from the Diocese, invest in the physical plant to upgrade it and open it as an independent, non-profit, non-denominational retreat center! I wish I had the means to do it myself, but surely there are enough people with the means who see the deep value of St. Therese’s. As a gift to the spiritual welfare of central Ohio, please consider saving it!

Steve – May 26, 2020

We must save this very special place of spiritual renewal and growth. It is sad to see faith be assigned an ROI.

Cyndi Williams – May 21, 2020

I still pray and hope the Shrine will be saved! This would be a great place to perhaps move the Jubilee Museum and with the ample parking and easy access, tours could be scheduled and charged for to pay for the upkeep perhaps? The Chapel and all of the grounds are too beautiful and should not be destroyed! I too wish I had the dollars to save it!!!! I’ve attended a lot of wonderful Women Retreats at the Shrine and go there to walk and pray sometimes.

Mary Malone – May 21, 2020

I agree with the previous post by Cyndi Williams. This would be an absolute, perfect place for the Jubilee Museum. Maybe a gift shop as well that could be staffed by volunteers. There is so much potential for the St. Therese’s. So much of our Catholic heritage is here. I pray it can be saved.

Grace – June 26, 2020

Don’t let it be destroyed! This beautiful building has a purpose to fulfill…

Diane Gawron – May 22, 2020

It would be a real tragedy to lose the St. Therese’s Retreat Center. When you go to the shrine, you can actually feel the holiness and all the prayers that have been shared over the years. It is a place that inspires and renews our faith in God. It will be such a loss to the Catholic community if the Shrine is sold and destroyed. It needs to be saved to prove there is a place for God in our materialistic world.

Mark Finneran – May 25, 2020

It would be a travesty to close and destroy this retreat center! It has served as a desperately needed respite for thousands of Catholic Christians on retreats over the very many years. In this day of social insanity, where the world is on fire, and anxieties run so high, a place of peace and quiet and prayer is essential. There is no comparable place for reflection, quiet and spiritual restoration in central Ohio. Please do not let scary finances drive this poorly considered decision, the lives and the spiritual wellness of the members of the body of Christ are more important than transient temporal needs. Clean up the house without destroying its foundation.
If not for the spiritual well being of the people, then at least consider the incredible architecture. This type of architectural craftsmanship will not be found again, it would be impossible to replicate. To destroy such incredible work would add insult to injury, and a true treasure would be lost forever.

Pam Kennedy – June 9, 2020

The retreat center has always been a place of peace and solace amid a turbulent world. The beauty of the grounds and buildings only lend to make this an oasis on the east side of Columbus. It is hard to believe that tearing down the structures to replace them with newer buildings can be considered an improvement. Perhaps, as this is such a tranquil place, the site could be repurposed to a rehabilitation center for those struggling with addiction or mental health issues.

Mitchell Grant – June 22, 2020

I have attended eight retreats at the St. Therese Center and one RCIA class session. I know the property well and it has significant meaning to me and all the faithful I know who have spent time there. The Chapel is a unique and Holy structure, built of the finest material in a European style not found in central Ohio. The destruction of this center, and the Chapel in particular would be a big loss for our Diocese and community.

Marilyn – June 24, 2020

Please God, someone will have the finances and courage to purchase and repurpose – rather than destroy – this beautiful building and property. There is great potential for this serene and ideal location just needs some forward thinking people to be inspired.

Grace – June 26, 2020

Don’t let it be destroyed! This beautiful building has a purpose to fulfill…

Matthew Sparks – June 26, 2020

This retreat center is very beautiful with amazing architecture. But it is much much more as a spiritual place for many men and women around the Columbus area. This place has strengthened and renewed the faith of thousands of souls. I have seen lives change in those meeting rooms, hallways and most of all the awe inspiring chapel. Lives have been saved in that chapel when God has reached out and touched someone’s soul and reminded them there is always a future in Him. Please save this amazing place for its’ beauty and its’ ability to save lives.

Madelaine C Gentry – July 16, 2020

Absolute shameless decision by the Diocese.
Jubilee Museum definitely
the way to go and admissions would pay for upkeep. What an addition it would become as a worldwide tourist attraction, while preserving
its historic countenances, strutures, landscape and transquilty. Million dollars homes and condos …NO…
You can be assured the back room deals for sale have and are already in motion.

Lisa Evans – September 13, 2020

Thus beautiful retreat center is irreplaceable! The inside of the chapel and stained glass windows are amazing. The carved pillars outside remind me if Central Park . It has such a beautiful holy reverent feeling when you enter. What if each retreat room could house a woman in crisis pregnancy, or if it could be a place of recovery for those with substance abuse issues that need to live in a supportive environment for a while( it’s seems like there would be a grant for that).

Michelle – September 30, 2020

This retreat center has brought so much peace to so many people over the years. The holiness there is abundant and unmistaken! I attended many silent retreats and never left the same. Blessings, tears, repentance, and quiet time with our Lord was something I looked forward to twice a year. As we approach the first weekend in October, I can’t help but feel sadness as it was one of the annual weekends for Womens retreats. I agree with former comments, it is a true travesty that this beautiful, holy place is not available and is in jeopardy of being torn down.

Kay Kasberg – January 1, 2021

I LOVE this place! I was fortunate enough to be able to have personal retreats here every week for several years while I worked through some issues. The staff was so welcoming and the place was sacred. Not to mention the beauty of the architecture and topography! Is there anything I can do to change the destiny of this precious place?

Patty Ruth – January 4, 2021

Thank you for sharing your experience with us Kay. We understand and appreciate your deep connection with St. Therese’s Retreat Center. I have reached out to the Catholic Diocese of Columbus to ask about the status of the site and if there are any volunteer opportunities. I will keep you posted on the reply.

All the best,

Patty J. Ruth
Associate Director

Monica Flynn – February 4, 2021

Hello! I am the Founder/Executive Director of Mommies Matter, a support program for single mothers. The lack of safe and affordable housing for our single Mommies has been heavy on my heart for years. I’ve been wanting to talk to the Diocese (but I don’t know who!) as I am determined to address this serious problem as so many of our mamas find themselves on the brink of homelessness. I cannot stress enough the incredible obstacle this creates for them in choosing life for their unborn babies. Simply put, abortion is a real alternative when the basic need of shelter/a place to call home is not met.

As I wrestle with this issue, I am open to exploring any and all possibilities to finding a solution. Last year, St Therese Retreat Center closed. Then COVID struck, and my pursuit of exploring it as an option was halted. Now, a year later, I’m ready to dive back in. My heart pounds when I think of the possibility of being able to renovate those beautiful holy grounds, and provide safe, stable housing for single mothers and their babies. The Lord has done amazing things in the two short years Mommies Matter has been “doing life together” with our Mommies, and now with Bishop Brennan’s “Walking with Women in Need” initiative, I feel God is leading me to have serious dialogue with the Diocese.

Can anyone help me explore this option? What an incredible, beautiful opportunity this could be to repurpose such a peaceful, holy special place and serve our most vulnerable sisters (and their babies!) in Christ. I welcome any suggestions!
In Him, Monica

Ann Malone – August 8, 2022

Why don’t the Brigittine Sisters, new to Columbus, occupy this building instead of begging for funds to build new? Why do Catholic religious orders so often seem to be poster children for (Catholic?) construction companies when so many solid old Catholic buildings need occupants!?!

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