Place to Restore and Resource

In the mid-2010s, changes were made to the property served to increase its flexibility and functionality as a resource centre for reconciliation. The redesign was planned to create a relaxed, warm and welcoming space, resulting in a house where those who feel called to answer the challenge of reconciliation can come and be refreshed and resourced.

Exterior changes were intended to restore the house to the way it was before the bombing, as the 1950’s reconstruction did not follow the original design very closely. Changes included replacing a thick framed single door to a narrow double leaf door. Necessary repairs such as restoring the roof, windows and gutters occurred. The interior spaces were reworked to make them more functional as a conference centre rather than a residence and updates were made to the second floor to accommodate one double flat with a kitchenette, one twin room, one single room, and an office space.

Walking around St Michael’s House, one will notice a diverse range of names for the rooms. In redesignating the house as a space for reconciliation, various individuals have been honoured for their work in this field. Downstairs there is the Brandt Suite, named for Willy Brandt, winner of the 1971 Nobel Peace Prize, mayor of West Berlin from 1957–1966 and Chancellor of West Germany from 1969–1974. The Provost Howard Library is named for Provost Howard of Coventry Cathedral, who first wrote ‘Father Forgive’ on the back of the ruined Cathedral after it was bombed. His belief in forgiveness rather than revenge was the foundation upon which the reconciliation ministry at Coventry Cathedral was built.

Upstairs is the Kennedy Suite, which commemorates the now demolished Kennedy House. Named for the U.S. President John F. Kennedy, this youth hostel was opened by Willy Brandt in 1962 and served as accommodation for the many volunteers coming to Coventry. The last room upstairs is the Provost Williams Dining Room, named for Bill Williams, who pioneered Coventry’s reconciliation ministry.

 

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