After years of planning and an extensive fund raising campaign, the $8.5 million Ross-Ellis Center for Arts and Ministry on the Barclay College campus in Haviland is set to open on Jan. 9.

A miracle has happened in Haviland at Barclay College and it's sitting on a lot on the north side of town. The Ross-Ellis Center for Arts and Ministry is complete and just days away from opening its doors for Barclay students.

Barclay College President Royce Frazier said the college will host a Grand Opening Chapel at 10:50 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 9 with Chairman of the Board of Trustees DeWayne Bryan leading the chapel celebration. The first classes in the building are also scheduled for Jan. 9.

Other events scheduled include an open house from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2 and a dedication service at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, both at the center.

"God gave us this incredible Christmas gift. We're going to show it off. We're going to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate," Frazier said. "It's quite a gift. It's humbling."

Besides classes, a couple of musical events are already scheduled. The grade school has booked the building for their spring music program and the college will present the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in April.

"We're excited to share this with the community as well," Frazier said.

The dream for the center is for it to become a fine arts center for the region of southwest Kansas. It should be a place where young people have an opportunity to experience the fine arts including theatre, vocal and instrumental music.

"Our intent is for it to service this region where students might not get the same opportunities like they have in larger areas. We need to put our thinking caps on but that's our goal," Frazier said.

The 26,000 square feet building has six potential class rooms, offices, dressing rooms, practice rooms, a large size theatre auditorium that seats 580. It's designed to serve both the college fine arts and academic needs. Barclay is home to a Christmas pageant that is held every two years. One of the features of the pageant is live camels. The design of the center included roll up doors on the loading dock and stage to accommodate the camels.

The lobby of the center will feature the 1917 Founders Hall corner stone that will be embedded in one of the brick pillars. A plaque for the center will also be in the lobby.

The total cost of the building and furnishings is $8.5 million with the cost of the building at $7.5 million. Currently, the college has raised just over $7.8 million so the building is paid for but another push is necessary to finish funding the building. Part of that last push is $250,000 for stage lights and $300,000 for a sound system that won't be purchased until fundraising is complete. Frazier said he still needs friends that will help promote fine arts in the region.

Frazier said his goal for the next 30 to 60 days is to raise the last of the funds and have everything in place for the spring productions.

"I need to be serious. We need to finish this and finish it well," Frazier said.

The idea of the fine arts center come from the descendants of Robert and Minnie Belle Ross who came to Haviland in the 1900s so their children could attend the college that opened in 1917 and was known as Kansas Central Bible Training School. The college was known from 1925 to 1990 as Friends Bible College and then changed to Barclay College.

Some 150 members of the Ross and Binford families have attended the academy and college. Many of them have donated to the project.

Robert and Anita Ellis have been very active in the community Christmas Pageant and musical productions and wanted the center and made a major contribution to the center as did alumni John and Joan Lemmons who also support the college and fine arts programs. The main auditorium has been named Lemmons Auditorium in their honor.

The college requested and received a Mabee Foundation matching grant of $750,000 for the project.

Over 400 other donors have given to the project. The majority are alums but also many friends of the college have also donated.

Founders Hall on the campus was home for classes and had an auditorium for chapels and a gathering place for the student body. Founders Hall was demolished 25 years ago and the college had to use local churches, primarily the Friends Church, for chapel and recitals. Hockett Auditorium served as the space to accommodate the student body and faculty. But it just didn't serve the needs of the college.

"We needed something more formal and appropriate," Frazier said.

Ross-Ellis will provide a performance stage, six class rooms and a gathering location for student body and faculty events.

The building site was the original site of the city grade school built in the early 1900s. When the college still had an academy, they got ownership of the building when the school district built new buildings on the west side of town in the early 1950s when Sheldon Jackson was president of the college. The building was condemned in the late 1990s because it didn't have appropriate fire escapes. The boilers were situated under the building fire escapes. The building was located across the street west of the main college campus.