After 30 years, the historic Cardome Centre in Georgetown will be back in the hands of the Catholic Church.
Monday night, the Georgetown City Council unanimously approved a 20-year capital lease to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington for the building.
Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather said the lease will allow the city to get about $1 million from the property. Under the lease terms, the church would pay $50,100 every year, with rent increases possible after every five years.
Prather said the city has been trying to get a lease agreement for the past several years. The city approved a short-term lease agreement in 2016.
“This has been a dream for a very long time,” he said.
The Cardome Centre will continue to host community events, such as the Georgetown International Kite and Culture Festival. Under the lease, the city will maintain about 29.5 acres of land near the property, and the church would control the building.
Linh Nguyen, pastor of St. Francis and John Catholic Parish, said the church plans to open a nonprofit renaissance center to host fine arts activities in Scott County. The center would celebrate theaters, music and playwrights and would teach languages, music and acting.
Nguyen said the church hopes to have a partnership with the Lexington Children’s Theatre and is working with a local theater group in Scott County.
The church’s school also will be at Cardome, for students from preschool to eighth grade.
Cardome is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1896, the Sisters of the Visitation, a religious order founded in France, bought Cardome and turned it into a boarding school. (The word Cardome comes from the Latin phrase “cara domas,” meaning “dear home.”) The nuns led lives so cloistered that they remained behind tall hedges or ornate grillwork barriers when visitors came to tour the grounds or attend Mass.
When the cloister closed in 1987, a $1 million grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing U.S.A. turned the property into a community center.
Cardome is on U.S. 25 near Scott County High School.