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Catholic Diocese sells Evans retreat for $1.4M

Diocese of Buffalo

The Buffalo Catholic Diocese has sold its former St. Columban Center for $1.4 million.

Credit Diocese of Buffalo

Located in Evans, the 27,000-square-foot Georgian mansion and 15-acre lakefront property had been a diocesan retreat for decades. It has been for sale since May 2016.

"We review diocesan operations on a regular basis," said Bishop Richard Malone, "and we determined that it was time to put the Columban Center on the market."

The new owners, Dr. David Johnson and his business partner Brenda Shaw, plan to change the center's name to SunCliff on the Lake and offer it as a venue for weddings and lodging with Italian food and decor.

Credit Diocese of Buffalo

"The way we feel about this is that it's a sacred place," said Johnson. We want to leave that cross up in the garden and we want to honor the history of this place. We don't want it forgotten that this was a half-century of people praying and following their religious path.

"We'd like to reach out to veterans and their families, possibly offering programs to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or to Gold Star families who lost a loved one," said Shaw, whose son, Sgt. Daniel Shaw, was killed in action in 2007 while serving in the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

SunCliff will also run week-long learning workshops in the areas of French, Italian, Spanish, American Jazz, painting, writing and other creative arts.