Source: Lowell Sun
On July 15, 2006 Lowell Sun reported, "Those who remember the Goodwill Industries building on Middlesex Street would hardly recognize the structure today. Gone are the well-stocked racks of second-hand jeans, jackets and assorted clothing. Ready to take their place: elaborate marble statues imported from India, flowing fountains, carved teakwood columns, 24-karat gold domes, and one of the largest function halls in the area, seating up to 600 people. Putting the finishing touches on their magnificent new 35,000-square-foot temple and cultural center are members of the ISSO Shri Swaminarayan Temple, a 600-member Hindu community that formerly worshipped in a modest temple on Andover Street. Now more centrally located, this community service-oriented group of satsangis (followers) of Lord Shri Swaminarayan is especially enthusiastic about sharing their modern cultural center with people of all faiths in the New England community... Designed by the Lowell architectural firm Belanger and Foley, the $3 million temple will accommodate Hindu worship through its 6,000-square-foot prayer hall, featuring marble floors, carved teak doors and columns, an elaborate main altar, and numerous hand-carved marble statues, or deities, once they are consecrated in August... In addition to the prayer hall and the elegant 7,000-square-foot function room ('the largest in New England,' says Patel), there are a library, three large classrooms, a health-fitness center, a dance studio, a physician's examination room (for free clinics), and a state-of-the-art audio/video system with access to computer networks for educational and humanitarian activities. The 2,800-square-foot commercial kitchen features a spacious walk-in pantry, large walk-in refrigerator/freezer, abundant workspace and modern appliances. Living quarters adjacent to the prayer hall are for the saints (priests), who will be on site 24 hours a day. A spacious second-floor residence was designed for visits from His Holiness Acharya Maharajshri (from India, he is the equivalent to the pope in Catholicism) and his wife, Her Holiness Gadiwala. Part of the building will be leased to a market that sells Indian foods and goods, a convenience for the Indians worshipping at the temple, Patel said."