ANDERSON — When Lisa Singleton-Roberts lost her job earlier this year, she decided it was finally time to follow her dream. Having spent 14 years as a successful certified wedding/event planner, she knew she wanted to operate her own venue.
“I was walking by this building and thought that it would be a great event center,” said Lisa, who had been selling insurance in Noblesville. “It’s a unique historical building but it hadn’t been cared for. When I walked by this place, I bumped up against my destiny.”
She left her event planning career behind years ago due to the number of evening and weekend hours it demanded. With a desire to be home with her children, Lisa decided a more traditional job fit the bill. Now with two grown children and nine-year-old Colin, she feels the time is ripe to begin a new venture.
Originally a firehouse built in 1927 on Broadway and Plum, the structure has been both commercial and residential property. Not only did Lisa and her husband, Sam Roberts of Sam Roberts Plumbing, remove walls to create large gathering spaces, but also had to gut all the rooms due to their bad condition.
Walking through the front door, visitors will enter the bistro room, where Lisa painstakingly hand-painted the smooth wood floor that was discovered under carpet. Sam built a wood bar that doubles as a place to enjoy a drink or lay out a buffet.
Muted yellow walls are accented with dark trim and décor has been added to create the feel of a bistro. In a few months, this area will be open for breakfast, lunch and specialty coffee.
The largest gathering room features the still-operational oversized garage door that once opened for fire trucks. Clients that choose dates filled with warm sunshine ask for the door to be opened to create an alfresco feel.
In the bathroom, Sam laid a new tile floor with beautiful glass accent pieces. Just outside the door, a friend painted trees and a “Welcome” sign on the wall. One tree features a simple “S + L” message that harkens back to Sam and Lisa’s budding relationship in junior high.
Plans are being made to remake the exterior as well. In the spring Lisa wants to remove the asphalt behind the event center and replace it with pavement. A new privacy fence, wedding gardens and outdoor seating will make the exterior as lovely as the interior.
“There has been a great reception for having something on the north side of town,” she said. “Everybody wants to build on the south side. This is where I grew up and this is where I wanted to create a venue.”
After graduating from Anderson High School, Lisa left town, joined the Marines and traveled. Four years ago she found herself in Indianapolis longing for home.
“It was time for a life change,” she recalled. “I still had friends in Anderson and I wanted to raise my son in a small town. It was the best decision I ever made.”
After returning, she rekindled a relationship with her junior high school sweetheart, Sam. Together they remodeled the house he grew up in, which gave them some renovation experience to unleash on the Toscana Event Centre.
While the many changes have occurred quickly (since June), the road hasn’t been easy.
“We took our life savings and put it into this,” said Lisa. “I had a vision. I knew as soon as I walked in what I wanted it to look like. But it was so dilapidated that my friends and family couldn’t see it. That made it hard – they thought I made a mistake. When we were about a fourth of the way through this, Sam finally said: ‘I think you’re going to do this. It’s coming together.’'