There are fundraisers and charity occasions, but there has never been a Chair-ity Event like the one planned for Saturday at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock.

St. Joseph Center of Arkansas (SJCA), the former St. Joseph Orphanage in North Little Rock, is being re-purposed and so are many of its chairs, thus the Chair-ity Event that begins at 6:30 p.m. that evening. "We are thrilled with the enthusiasm of our local artists," SJCA Board Chairwoman Sandy DeCoursey said. "We have more than 40 talented individuals who have come up with some very clever ideas for their chairs."

Forty-three chairs and seven small end tables from St. Joseph’s will be sold in silent and live auctions at the event, with all of the proceeds benefiting SJCA.

Event tickets are $35 each and may be purchased at the door. Winning bidders will take home both a piece of art and a piece of history. Chair themes cover the gamut of possibilities and range from angelic to Razorback to teenage modern to folk art.

Benedictine sisters from St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith have even decorated a chair for the auction. For a century, the monastery provided a total of 116 nuns who lived and served St. Joseph’s until December of 2007 when the last nuns in residence retired to St. Scholastica.

St. Joseph’s, the 102-year-old, 56,000-square-foot building surrounded by 63 pastoral acres, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is Camp Robinson’s next door neighbor. When threatened with a possible sale for commercial use, a group of concerned individuals stepped forward in 2008 to form a 501(c) (3) non-profit and to find new uses for the building. SJCA is now home to its first tenant, the Union Rescue Mission’s administrative offices. Additional family and community non-profit organizations are in negotiations with the SJCA board at this time. The building is also used by its owner, the Diocese of Little Rock, as well as parish and religious groups for their ministries.

St. Joseph’s long history began in 1907 when Bishop Morris bought 720 acres at 6800 Camp Robinson Road to build a place for children and elderly who had no one to care for them.

Local architect Charles L. Thompson designed St. Joseph Orphanage, which was built for $150,000. The four-story yellow brick and stone building was patterned like an Italian-style villa. The building includes 80 rooms, oak woodwork, a chapel with arched stained-glass windows, classrooms, large kitchen, dining room, dish washing room, bakery, laundry, attic and basement. The roof was laid with red tile and crowned with a cupola. The cupola’s lantern enhances a white cross, signifying the Christian basis of the orphanage.

Many of the extensive vegetable gardens seen in the past are beginning to bloom again at St. Joseph’s. The rose garden and Holstein cattle are also on the property, as is Julius Greb, St. Joseph’s grounds and maintenance supervisor for the past 52 years.

For more information about the Chair-ity Event or St. Joseph’s, contact DeCoursey at (501) 993-4560 or stjosephcenter@gmail.com.