December 10, 2012
Nestled on Commerce Street in the Starr Hill neighborhood of Charlottesville, the Jefferson School building is a local treasure, on the national register of historical places. This month the building is getting new occupants, as nine area non profits move into the newly renovated Jefferson School City Center.
"We have agreed to work together in some way, whether to expand our programs to expand the range and reach of our constituencies and also to share our facilities," said Andrea Douglas, the executive director of the African American Heritage Center.
The building boasts the state-of-the-art Carver Recreational Center, with basketball courts and exercise equipment. Classrooms are set up to offer tutoring classes in language and math by the Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville. The Women's Initiative will offer counseling services. Martha Jefferson Hospital and Jefferson Area Board for Aging will also have offices in the building. Piedmont Virginia Community College will offer cooking lessons beginning in January. The Heritage Center will provide lectures and art exhibits in the original classrooms of the Jefferson School.
"All kinds of people from all walks of life can come together and receive a range of services," Douglass said. "We're not just a health center, we're not a community center. We are a space for education, health, and entertainment. There's nothing like that in this city."
As the finishing touches are going up, the historical significance of the building aren't lost on its new inhabitants.
"This is the site where integration occurred," Douglas said. "As a historical place of significance, people who come in here are adding to that history as well. It really talks about the future and how we are going to interact as people in this space in the future."
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on the steps of the Commerce Street entrance Tuesday at 10:00am. An open house will is scheduled for the public on January 19th.