The Parish Assembly established a Building Committee with the purpose of soliciting funds to build a cultural center with the cost projected to be about $3.1million. It was an almost impossible task for interest rates were high and construction was at an all-time low. The Parish Assembly elected Stratton Liapis to serve as the Chairman of the Building Committee. He chose Leon Andris to serve as his Vice Chairman. Other key members of the Steering Committee along with Father George Papaioannou and Father Nicholas Despotides were Elaine Lailas, President, Parish Council, John Sporidis, Chairman, Architectural, Willam Hunter, Fundraising, Emanuel Fthenakis, Finance, Mike Kitsoulis, Legal, and John Nicolettos, Comptroller. Other members of the original Building Committee were Basil Assimakopoulos, John Galanis, Peter Barris, Georgia Volakis, Trianthe Dakolias, Philoptochos President, Penny Calomiris and ex-officio members: George Rodgers, Sunday School, Mary Baras, Greek School, Victor Panagos, Choir, Christina Hitiris, Jr. G.O.Y.A., and George Cominos, Y.A.L. Angelos Demetriou, an internationally known architect, was hired to serve as the official architect/designer of our cultural center.
In a series of Parish Assemblies and presentations of the Master Plan, the Planning Committee did its work. Using the children’s book entitled, The Little Engine That Could, Parish Council President Elaine Lailas made her point metaphorically that the parish of St. George could do it. Hence, the logo became, “We Can Do It.” Parishioners wore the lapel pins with the logo, and a banner was draped above the Founders’ Hall stage as a daily reminder. The enthusiasm of the Fund-Raising Committee made the parishioners believe in the project. It was the first time that such efforts to build a cultural center was made in the Washington Metropolitan area, and it received attention and support from members of the other Greek Orthodox parishes. The Building Program Master Plan comprised of two phases of construction; both formulated to direct the expansion across a reasonable and financially prudent timeline. The two phases were approved by the Parish Assembly, and are outlined below. Phase I components: the Vestry, the Cultural Center (Educational and Multi-purpose Auditorium), the Entrance Lobby, the Courtyard, the Entryway, and Parking Facility. Phase II embarks on the final design and construction components of the Cultural Center which included: the Chapel, the Main Lobby, the Bell Tower, the Pergola, Gardens/Landscaping, Founders’ Hall Renovation Expansion, Administrative Facilities Renovation, and the Kollecas House Relocation.
On September 22, 1991, the Parish Assembly unanimously and enthusiastically passed a resolution authorizing the Building Committee to raise the funds necessary for the Construction of Phase I of the Cultural Center. The goal of raising $2 million for the Cultural Center was an ambitious but a realistic one. On September 22, over $703,000 in pledges and cash were raised from the torchbearers of this effort, with plans to raise the additional $300,000 over the next 5 years through various fundraising activities. To raise the additional $1 million, each family was asked to share the responsibility of pledging five thousand dollars over a five year period.
On November 1, 1992, the groundbreaking ceremony marked a landmark in time in the long process of developing and building the cultural center. At break-neck speed, construction proceeded even in inclement weather. The teamwork of the Executive Committee served as proof of their efforts. Stratton’s enthusiasm spilled over to others. Leon , Stratton and Art met bi-weekly with the construction oversite manager to keep the building project on schedule, while Elaine ensured the momentum of the process, always keeping the community involved. Leon also walked the papers through Montgomery – County bureaucracy – to keep us on track. Emanual Fthenakis, Bill Hunter, John Galanis, and John Nicolettos put together a financial package that one could not refuse. Ultimately, the cornerstone ceremony was celebrated by His Excellency Metropolitan Silas in April 1993. The dedication ceremony completed the construction part of Phase I on November 19, 1993. At this point in time, the Executive Board of the Building Committee was comprised of Father George Papaioannou, Father Nicholas Despotides, Elaine Lailas, President, Stratton Liapis, Chairman, Leon Andris, Vice-Chairman, John Galanis, Treasurer, William Hunter, Fund-raising, Emanuel Fthenakis, Finance, Arthur Lafionatis, Legal Counsel, and Athena Kalyvas Efessiou, President, Ladies Philoptochos Society.