St. Ann Arts & Cultural Center is Woonsocket's own Sistine Chapel, with city ancestors looking down from the…More historic walls. Ornate stained glass and fresco paintings cover every wall of the restored building, now run as community-based non-profit.
When the Diocese sold off St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church in 2000, former parishioners worked with art lovers to step in and save the building that had been a second home to so many poor French Canadian immigrants since the early 1900s. In the 1940s, an Italian artist, Guido Nincheri, used members of the church as his models to create the largest collection of fresco paintings in North America.
Chairman of the board of directors Wally Rathbun emphasizes his desire to help the city and ensure that the building serves as a resource to its residents. The center, run entirely by volunteers, holds fundraising events throughout the year and every penny not put back into the preservation of the original structure is used to help city residents. The group sponsors a Guardian Angel program to help local students pay for education and donates coats to the needy every winter.
Currently the center is open every Sunday with tours between 1 and 4. They serve dinners and do performances in the former church and in the basement below, which has a full bar (including liquor license) and a stage, complete with a large dressing room. All of the facilities are available for rent, with accommodations for performances, special events, and weddings.