By Amanda Rogers
Tonya and David Cook weren’t looking to open an events center, but when the opportunity popped up next door, they couldn’t turn it down.
After more than six months and $1 million in renovations, Central Baptist Church has become Anchora Event Center at 403 E. Broad St. and they are ready to party.
“We can do so many things here,” said Blake Hinson, Anchora’s director and Tonya Cook’s daughter. “It’s not just a wedding venue, we can work with church groups and businesses.”
David Cook, who served as Mansfield’s mayor from 2008-2021 and now as Texas State Representative for District 96, has had his law practice in the historic house on East Broad Street for several years, just across Sycamore Street from Central Baptist Church.
The little white church has been a fixture in Mansfield since the 1960s, but the congregation recently built a new church home on North Walnut Creek Drive and needed to sell their old building.
That’s when things started cooking. The congregation had previously reached out to Cook to ask if they could park in his lot on Sundays and Wednesday nights. Later, they sold him the building behind the church, which he used for office space. In 2019, they asked if he wanted to buy the church.
“That’s an opportunity we never thought we would have,” Tonya Cook said. “How do you say no to that? At first, we were thinking training then we looked at all the potential. We don’t have anything like this.”
Tonya Cook left her longtime career as a school counselor and is helping manage the new center with her daughter. Anchora (the name comes from the Latin feminine form of the word anchor) has already begun taking reservations for weddings, baby showers, rehearsal dinners, meetings and quincenaras.
And do they have a place to party! The 60-year-old church has been turned into a 7,000-square-foot facility that includes the grand hall, which used to be the sanctuary, and the Rowlett Room, which used to be a sidewalk until it was enclosed. There’s also a catering room, groom’s suite, full-service kitchen, offices and a bridal suite that takes up the whole back building with five makeup hair and makeup stations, a dazzle room for dressing and a stage with floor-to-ceiling mirrors. There’s even a playroom for younger guests.
Between the buildings is a small outdoor area with seating and a planned pergola that can be used for smaller weddings. And the building is wired with a sound system and projectors. The grand hall has great acoustics, Cook says. The wide open room features chandeliers, a custom white and caramel epoxy floor and beautiful stained glass that honor the building’s former occupation, as does the Rowlett Room, named for Rev. Samuel Rowlett who served as pastor at Central Baptist Church for 60 years.
Tonya Cook sees Anchora becoming a fixture in the Mansfield community, where people will celebrate important events for decades.
“I definitely see it being here for a long time, generationally,” she said.
For more information, go to anchoraeventcenter.com or call 817-271-1648.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.