Beloved community house getting new life

February 13th, 2020     Community Featured

A place where many older residents used to spend weekend nights and possibly danced with someone of the opposite sex for the first time is getting a new life.

Workers are in the process of renovating the city’s approximately 60-year-old community center on Wilson Street.

The center was heavily used during its first decades of life, particularly as a place for chaperoned proms, dances with live bands and school-age gatherings. The entire block was in use more because the city swimming pool was situated behind the center as well.

At one point the building suffered fire damage and was repaired, but gradually began to fall out of use as often. The area traffic was further reduced when the tennis courts on the lower part of the block were removed and the pool, which was by then losing 50,000 gallons of water a day, was closed and filled in.

Now, the building is getting a new ceiling and other interior work. The kitchen also is being renovated with more up-to-date equipment. The restrooms have already been brought up to handicapped accessible standards.

The room has a large fireplace which used to be functional but is not now. It was not determined whether the chimney would be opened back up, or something like gas logs might be installed.

Further plans call for eventually updating the exterior of the building and adding considerable landscaping. A small stage area will be constructed down the hill from the center as well, and it is hoped that grant money obtained can be used for new playground equipment.

Mayor Tim Kent said they need to provide some off-street parking, probably where the swimming pool used to be, behind the center.

Use of the center is going to be promoted more. It is considered a better space for most meetings and events such as receptions than the Magnolia Room at the civic center because of its larger area. It also is expected to be a better space in terms of affordability with the Magnolia Room used more for governmental or business events.

“The whole block has been under used for years,” Kent said, and the plan is to change that. A new perception of the area after the work is done should help, he added.

 

Some of the office space where a porch used to be, and the large fireplace

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