Tulsa, Okla. (KTUL) — At first glance, the old rectory of the St. Augustine Catholic Church looks like a shabby, abandoned house, but to Marion Avance it means so much more.
"I've gone here all 72 years of my life," said Avance. "It was like heaven sent because this church brought not only it's faith and its catholic religion, it brought education. It taught us a lot, it made me who I am today."
The church opened its doors in the 50's.
It was not only a spiritual home but one of the first all black catholic churches
"Back then we couldn't go to any other church within the Catholic Dioceses," said Avance. "We could only go to places that were created for African Americans."
About 10 years after the opening, the church would grow into a bigger building but the old rectory still stands.
Avance is working to have it renovated and turned into a community gift and coffee shop in north Tulsa.
"It would be a place where people can socially mix," said Avance. "We could invite the community here to buy greeting cards, t-shirts, get a cup of coffee, some pastries, a sandwich, a bottle of water, just about anything."
But not everyone's on board with it.
The head priest, who is reportedly against the project, declined an interview.
Avance says it's because of money.
"If I could put a number on it, I would say $50,000 would suffice," said Avance.
Despite the push back from other church members, Avance says he isn't giving up and starting a campaign to save the building.
His hopes are to create a landmark adding to Tulsa's history.