The Bushmasters Club on Dolores Avenue that has been the location for hundreds of weddings and quinceaneras and was at one time, even being considered as a possible site for the new community center for Douglas, has become a place of worship.
Iglesia Rey de Reyes, a Christian church of about 25 members that was once located on 15th Street hear Douglas High School, has purchased the former Bushmasters.
Jesse Valenzuela, son of pastors Jesus and Gloria Valenzuela, said the purchase was a long time coming taking almost a year to close before finally coming to fruition on March 5.
The realtor who lined up the Valenzuela family with the Bushmasters was Esther Nunez of Long Realty.
“For a while we were competing against the city,” Jesse said. “We were basically waiting on them to see if they were going to purchase it or not. Once we were told by Esther, they didn’t want the building I was able to talk to the owner Peter Vanven which helped get things going.”
Valenzuela said he remembers attending carne asada events at the Bushmasters as a child and when the building became available, his family decided to put in an offer.
“We really like the location,” he said. “With the new playground being right next door, this park is always busy. Plus, it has a lot of history.”
Jesus and Gloria also live a couple blocks away which is also a plus, Jesse said.
Renovations inside the building have begun and the area were the congregation now meets, which is called the temple, was formally the bar. The dance floor has been temporarily boarded off until that remodeling is complete, eventually turning that into the main meeting area.
Jesse said he hopes one day, to have wedding and quinceanera events in there like had been done in the past.
“Where the temple is now, we want to turn into a room for the youth where they can watch movies, play games,” he said. “We have a lot of ideas on what we’d like to do here.”
Jesse has four other brothers, all of whom work for Cochise County, along with a sister-in-law.
“We all chipped in,” he said. “This building is pretty historic and has a lot of memories for a lot of people.”
Jesus said he is very happy he and his family were able to buy the Bushmasters and gives all the credit to God for helping make it happen.
Services are held every Sunday at 11 a.m. and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Services are done in both English and Spanish and the public is welcomed.
The Bushmasters was the name given to the Arizona National Guard troops during World War II. The Bushmaster is a poisonous snake found in the jungles of Central and South America.