Historic Maennerchor building joins the Jefferson Avenue Center

The Jefferson Avenue Center is receiving an extraordinary contribution: 966 South High Street, the historic Maennerchor building located in the Brewery District, along with full funding to renovate and preserve the building.  Two philanthropists, who wish to remain anonymous, saved the property from the possibility of demolition and wanting to see the vacant building preserved and transformed into a community asset, they found a partner in the Jefferson Avenue Center. 

966 South High Street, built in the early 1880s and identified by the Columbus Landmarks Foundation as one of central Ohio’s “Most Endangered Buildings,” will be renovated in compliance with the Brewery District Architectural Review Commission’s standards. It will also be brought up to current building code and ADA requirements in the process.

“We could not be more pleased to be entrusted with this storied property,” said Katharine Moore, Executive Director of the Jefferson Avenue Center. “Architect Mark Ours, the principal of Mode Architects, has created a stunning renovation concept that will showcase the remaining historic elements, while transforming the building into an attractive and functional space for future nonprofit tenants.”

“Securing the building was a huge first step,” Moore said, “but our donors are also funding the renovation, and that makes this a one-of-kind preservation success story.”

The building was purchased by the Columbus School Board in 2010 as a part of the renovation of Stewart Alternative Elementary School. The parcel allowed the Board to expand the playground and reconfigure a west entrance, but the building itself was not needed.

“Just last year, a development proposal called for demolition of this property to make way for a new residential building,” recalled Becky West, Executive Director of Columbus Landmarks. “The Brewery District Commission voted ‘no’ because the proposal was not in keeping with the historic character of the neighborhood. This significant save is the result of a remarkable act of generosity on behalf of the investors, and we celebrate the outcome.”

The renovations are expected to be completed in 2020.

Photo courtesy of Columbus Landmarks Foundation

Action for Children Creates a Welcoming Workspace

These times call for nonprofit organizations to adopt big, bold, game-changing solutions, and on the Jefferson Avenue Center campus, Action for Children is leading the way as one of the first local employers to join in The Columbus Commitment to support equity and fairness in the workplace. 

With a four-step initiative that incorporates living wages, paid parental leave, pay equity, and an enhanced leave donation policy, Action for Children's Eric Karolak is inspiring other CEOs to build the organizations we need to deliver results. 

The Jefferson Avenue Center has now added our name to the list of employers in the Columbus region making a formal commitment to the living wage initiative. Our staff is small and the impact to the economy will not be great, but if nonprofit organizations don’t lead the way in matters of social justice, who will?

Women in Columbus earn 78 cents to every dollar earned by a man. Learn more about how you can join Action for Children and the Columbus Women’s Commission to address the issue of the gender pay gap here.

A Remarkable Act of Generosity

Exciting news!

The Jefferson Avenue Center now has another historic building.

Mike Paul and the E.T. Paul Company generously donated 105 Parsons Ave. to the Jefferson Avenue Center.

This is the first time our organization has owned a property "off-campus," and there are many options to consider as we explore uses for the 9,000-square-feet building.

The upstairs is laid out for residential use, and there are 4 retail bays on the first floor. Forward thinking and innovative ideas sought!

Have an idea? Email info@jeffersonavenuecenter.org.

Giving Thanks for Attention to Detail

Thanksgiving gives us a chance to reflect about what we're grateful for. And this year, our Thanksgiving shout-out goes to Doug Wilkins, our Properties Manager.

Doug pays keen attention to the historic porch columns, ceiling medallions, door hardware, and fireplace mantels across the Jefferson Avenue Center campus. He has repaired inlaid wood flooring, rebuilt solariums and porches, laid brick walks, and restored more historic windows than we can count.

He appreciates that preservation is retaining what is existing. Once something is lost, it is very expensive to recreate. Some of Doug's most valuable contributions come from the routine and preventative maintenance he performs — which will save thousands in potential costs.

Most individuals in the building trades, when faced with maintaining and preserving an historic property, do not have the necessary specialized skills and knowledge. So with the best of  intentions, they rely on their knowledge of modern construction practices. That approach often causes irreparable damage to the historic fabric.

Which makes us all the more grateful for Doug's expertise and dedication to the Jefferson Avenue Center.

Bonus: If you need a contractor with preservation expertise, we have a great resource at the Jefferson Avenue Center campus. Susan Keeny, the Home Preservation Program Director at Columbus Landmarks Foundation, would be happy to make her list of resources available to you. 

Chili Peppers, Ghost Stories, and Workforce Development

It might be a challenge to find the commonality in chili peppers, ghost stories, and workforce development, but they were all elements found in the Jefferson Avenue Center’s annual progressive lunch. Seventy-four change agents turned out for appetizers at the Thurber House, fajitas at Action for Children, and inspiration from next-door neighbors.

The centerpieces at lunch were chili pepper plants, it was the perfect time of year to revisit the Night the Ghost Got In at Thurber House, and the whole gang was pleased to welcome Eckerd Workforce Development as the newest tenant organization on the campus.

We learned that if an organization needs a background check at the most competitive price available, Action for Children is prepared to provide it; if clients are at risk of eviction, Community Mediation Services can help prevent a family from becoming homeless; Columbus Landmarks Foundation’s Home Preservation Program assists homeowners in the preservation, repair, and maintenance of houses 50 years and older; and the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio is collaborating with Peace-Builders and Community Refugee and Immigration Services to host a workshop about the DACA program, the recipients in our city, and what can be done to help keep DACA alive.

The annual Progressive Lunch always comes with a serving of “I had no idea!”

The Jefferson Avenue Center: where neighbors form unlikely alliances that drive social innovation.

A New Executive Director on the Campus

Congratulations to the new leader on the block!

One of our fantastic tenants, Columbus Landmarks Foundation, has named Becky West as the organization's Executive Director. West is a Discovery District resident who enjoys being able to walk to work on the Jefferson Avenue Center campus. 

When we stopped in to snap a picture, the office was hopping with plans to celebrate the finalists and toast the winner of the 2017 James B. Recchie Design Award on Oct. 5. (Read more about that here.)

Congrats again to Columbus Landmarks Foundation: 40 years of raising the bar is no small feat!