The word “Beulah” originated from Hebrew, in the book of Isaiah, as a reference to the promised land of Israel. In Chesterfield, dating back to the naming of the original Beulah Church in the 1800s, it has been associated with a place to belong.
So it was fitting that, even on the hottest day of the year to date, a large and enthusiastic group of community members came out Sunday afternoon to participate in the formal dedication of a repurposed elementary school and cherished landmark as the new Beulah Recreation Center.
“This facility is a direct result of our community expressing their desire for a center that promotes community cohesion and close civic bonds,” said Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland. “For many of you who attended or had children attend this old Beulah school, you have precious memories that were created inside this building. I’m proud that this space will continue to serve as a hub of activity for our children, our seniors, our families and our community organizations.”
Beulah Recreation Center was created through adaptive reuse of the old Beulah Elementary School, which was originally constructed in 1928. The building was renovated and expanded nine times over the years, adding a library, cafeteria, auditorium, gymnasium and numerous classrooms to accommodate a growing enrollment.
Once the new Beulah Elementary opened in 2018, the Board of Supervisors concluded that while the old building had reached the end of its useful life as a school, with some enhancements it could serve the Beulah community in other important ways.
“I’d like to think the 10th [renovation] is the sweetest one because this is the passion of a community coming together,” said County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey. “You’re going to see a lot of activity here because this place is going to be something for everybody, morning, noon and night, every season and every day.”
The process of transforming the vacant building into a recreation center began in 2021. The reimagined facility now includes a gymnasium, four classrooms and meeting spaces and a multipurpose room with capacity for more than 250 people, a stage area and kitchen.
“In keeping with the significance of the name, this new community space is incredibly important for a healthy and vibrant community,” said Rev. Donald Gibson, lead pastor at Beulah United Methodist Church. “It will provide opportunities for residents to be active and interact with one another, a common ground focused on fostering a culture of health and wellbeing.”
The next phase of the project will include improvements to the outdoor recreation areas on this site -- including a picnic shelter, baseball/softball field, courts for basketball and futsal, and creation of Chesterfield’s first cricket grounds to serve a growing group of cricket enthusiasts in the county.
Residents who toured the facility as part of Sunday’s festivities had a chance to view display boards with renderings of planned enhancements to the Beulah Recreation Center and other nearby parks.
Beginning today, part of the new recreation center also serves as headquarters for Chesterfield Parks and Recreation, enabling the department to bring its administrative staff under the same roof for the first time.
“We are fortunate to be embedded in this community,” said Neil Luther, the county’s Parks and Recreation director. “We’ve been a department for 50 years and this is really a generational opportunity for us. What a true blessing it is to have this space in a community recreation center so we can serve you with programs and other opportunities.”