BELMONT, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — After two years of leasing, Belmont Abbey College’s Belmont House is now a dream come true, thanks to a generous gift from a former student.

Florida State graduate Dr. Maximo Alvarez recently gave the private Catholic college a $1.7 million gift. Alvarez is known for offering a passionate 7-minute speech at the 2020 GOP National Convention. 

The 75-year-old Cuban-American, who took college classes in Belmont from 1965 to 1967, founded Sunshine Gasoline Distributors in 1976. Today, the company operates over 300 locations and supplies another 250 branded retail locations in the United States and Canada.

Alvarez’s gift gives the private Catholic college a permanent foothold in the nation’s capital. 

The school announced it was leasing the District of Columbia house at 314 Independence Ave SE in 2021. At the time, school leaders said the building was necessary to support those who stand up for freedom of religion as the federal government has become “increasingly unfriendly to people and institutions of faith.” 

Since then, the Belmont House has hosted Christian leaders and voices who “promote Judeo-Christian values and prepare young professionals to engage with our culture and politics in fruitful and ethical ways.” 

In 2021, the school said it had plans to open additional Belmont Houses in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.   

Speaker Pro Tempore of the United States House of Representatives Patrick McHenry, a 1999 Abbey graduate, has also met with college leaders at the residence. In December, current Abbot Placid Solari is set to speak about prayer and work in politics.

“I’m here to express my gratitude for the years that I spent at Belmont Abbey,” Alvarez said in a press release. “Belmont Abbey is another entity to which I owe my success. Today, I’m just paying back a little bit of what was given to me. If I gave away everything I have today, it wouldn’t even be 10 percent of what was given to me through charity by the people of this country.”