The historic building at 103 W. Main St. in downtown Shawnee, has some new murals and some old ones, but it also has new owners that plan to make it a Tuscan-inspired one-stop wedding shop.


The historic building at 103 W. Main St. in downtown Shawnee, has some new murals and some old ones, but it also has new owners that plan to make it a Tuscan-inspired one-stop wedding shop.

Dana and Teresa Holden have invested about $500,000 in their passions and investment in Shawnee and turning it into something beautiful: “La Bella,” which means “the beautiful one” in Italian, an event center that caters to weddings, Teresa said. 

“We are keeping as much as we can of the murals. [The former owner] hand painted all of these,” she said.
The Holdens plan to accommodate different variety of events like proms and family reunions, once construction is complete, which will add new dimensions and floor space and bring the building up to code.

“This building was built in the 1930s,” Teresa said.

However, the 14,000 square-foot floor space, will focus on weddings, because Teresa is a wedding planner and her husband Dana is a licensed minister.

The Holdens made the chapel larger, adding dressing rooms, new air conditioning and duct work and are in the process of adding an elevator.

They extended the ceiling of the wedding chapel to 17 feet and will seat up to 175 guests downstairs.  The reception room and dance floor will be on the second floor and can accommodate about 250 people. It will be an alcohol-free facility, Dana said.

The pair made agreements with local musicians to provide music, and the company will also outsource hair stylists.

La Bella will eventually have a kitchen for catering the wedding parties, but that is further down the line. Right now it is set up for outside caterers to come in and set up the food, Teresa said.        

The Holdens are also working with a part-owner of the business, Dana’s sister, who plans to also relocate to Shawnee. Teresa’s mother, who is a certified food handler, also plans to help with the business.

Dana and Teresa are not originally from Shawnee but are another recent example of people that have visited and quickly found themselves enamored by the design and architecture of the down town area, they said.

They found the event center, most recently known as “The Venue,” for sale October 2010 and, although it needed a lot of work, they said it was the perfect place for something they had wanted to do for a while.

They moved to Shawnee from Newalla and purchased the building in May and began work immediately.

“We had been wanting to do a business of our own for a number of years and this just presented itself,” Dana said. “We saw the building we loved the town. The people here have just been wonderful.”

The two did not stop at being new residents and business owners, they quickly jumped into helping improve Shawnee by working with organizations like a program with the Chamber of Commerce that provides a fresh perspective to the strengths and weaknesses of downtown Shawnee, Dana said.

The Holdens plan to open the doors to La Bella for business for Dec. 1.