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International House to leave building

After more than 20 years operating out of the Staten Mansion, the International House needs to find a new home. Their lease in the iconic building on Hawthorne Lane runs out in three years and St. John's Baptist Church needs its building back.

The 13-room house built 1916 is one of the most recognizable buildings in the international community. The house has come to identify the International House. Its picture is often displayed on pictures and brochures. Dozens of international organizations, such as the World Affairs Council and Latin American Coalition, were first housed in the International House before expanding to locations of their own.

Bill Garcia, executive editor of the International House, expressed sadness to be leaving the iconic building, but he said it's always been clear the lease was temporary. He praised the church for its generosity and vision for the organization.

“It's not a bad thing,” said Garcia. “We love the fact that we've been here for this period of time.”

Blythe Taylor, associate minister at St. John's Baptist said the church was not prepared to publicly discuss its future plans. She said the church has cherished the relationship with the International House.

“We've been blessed for years to witness how they've grown and changed over the years,” she said. “We're very grateful for them.”

The International House began in 1981 as an ecumenical ministry at St. John's Baptist Church. Officers worked out of two small rooms in the church, but it grew so quickly that in 1985, church officials decided to dedicate the old State Mansion they owned to the organization. The church has leased the building to International House for $1 a year.

The organization now serves more than 10,000 people per year with more than 20 programs and services. It is one of the immigrant community's most trusted sources for integrating into the community.

The lease runs out on Dec. 31, 2011. Garcia said the International House plans to continue its work long after. Organization leaders are just starting plans to look for a new, likely larger, location. He said the new building will have to be centrally located, on a bus route, and large enough to handle all its existing programs and services.

“The building has become an icon representing what we are,” he said. “We want to appeal to the community to see it as a positive move, help us accommodate that change and remain engaged with us in our new facility.”

Franco Ordoñez: 704-358-6180

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