Historic Golden Gate Center for Enrichment
In the heart of Golden Gate lies a gem: The historic Golden Gate building. The building is treasured by the community as an important landmark that connects the neighborhood to its past.
The Mission-style Golden Gate building was built in 1925 as the sales office for the original subdivision. Over the years, the building has served as a post office, a town hall, a church and a school. In the 1950s, it was the residence of well-known local artist Jim Hutchinson and his wife, Joan. Some of Jim’s paintings are still visible on the interior walls.
The building has not been occupied since about 1959, and it fell into disrepair. The county acquired it in 2002, and the Friends of the Historic Golden Gate Community Inc. has played a key role in the preservation of the building and started the application for it to be recognized as a registered historic site. This work resulted in restoring the façade of the building and shoring up the walls, which were in danger of collapse. However, the inside has been gutted and awaits renovation.
Through the United Way of Martin County, a local benefactor has made a commitment to provide a significant portion of the financial resources ($120,000 match) to renovate the first and second floors of the building. This work will include installing plumbing, electrical and air conditioning as well as the addition of restrooms and an elevator to ensure ADA compliance. The estimated construction cost is approximately $200,000.
The funding opportunity from the anonymous benefactor was the springboard for more action geared toward revitalizing the building and the community.
The following milestones occurred in the summer of 2015:
- The Martin County Board of County Commissioners voted to contribute $80,000 for the building renovation/restoration.
- The House of Hope Board of Directors voted to take on the management of the facility and the financial responsibility for maintenance and utilities.
- A 15-year lease was negotiated between House of Hope and Martin County for the building.
In June 2016 additional funding for the project has come in the form of a $128,362 grant from the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties.
House of Hope, Indian River State College (IRSC), the Martin County Library System, Habitat for Humanity, Project LIFT, the Martin County Community Foundation and the United Way of Martin County are joining forces to bring to life the Historic Golden Gate Center for Enrichment. The scope of work and the expected long-term duration of this effort make this a unique collaboration.
Based on the community’s vision, a formal community survey, information from the collaborative partners, and data from other community agencies, the historic Golden Gate building will be transformed into a vibrant community Center for Enrichment that will offer programs, classes and information sessions in the areas of education, vocational training, life skills, health and nutrition, arts and culture, and library services.
The access to technology in the building for local residents will be key to closing the technology divide that exists in the community. There also will be information and artifacts to recognize and celebrate the history of the building and the Golden Gate community.
The first floor of the building will house an Idea Lab that will bring technology and creative tools into the hands of residents who may not have access to these resources. The lab will be modeled after two Idea Labs that the Martin County Library System already has in place at the Cummings and Morgade libraries. These labs provide many opportunities for learning including:
- Providing high school and college students the ability to compete with other applicants for acceptance into colleges or applying for jobs by creating projects such as films, digital animation, music creations, photography, website or video game design.
- Enriching job seekers with new skills that the market requires as well as the new ways in which employers expect to interact with applicants (video interviews, digital resumes and presentations.)
- Offering access to technology devices and Wi-Fi connections that will enable full access to the library’s online resources, including homework help, tutoring services and the ability to check out ebooks and downloadable audiobooks.
Locating these services within the Golden Gate building will remove a long-standing barrier to access that many residents have suffered for years. Due to a lack of transportation, local residents have missed out on the Library System’s collection of books and professional help that will be available in the Historic Golden Gate Center for Enrichment.
The second floor of the Center will be a space dedicated to meeting and instruction and designed for maximum flexibility. The space will be outfitted with easily moveable furniture. The area will also be equipped with the electrical and plumbing necessary to support the use of electronic devices as well as to create an area that would support arts-related programming. In addition to the space being available for community meetings and gatherings, the second floor will be dedicated to all forms of learning, including:
- The Library System’s adult literacy classes (GED and English as a Second Language).
- Habitat for Humanity’s homeowner education classes.
- IRSC workshops, seminars and career training programs.
- Job skills training programs such as sewing and tailoring, technology opportunities, Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
- Parenting, nutrition and health education.
- Arts and cultural presentations and education.
The planning has started, with great support from N2 Architecture + Design, Weider Engineering and Wojcieszak & Associates offering their services on a pro bono basis. Hooks Construction will be the contractor for the project.
The permitting process started in early in February 2016. Once approved, construction may take as long as four months because of the special care required to work on the building.
Although funding for the physical renovation has been secured, additional support is needed. Grant writing and fundraising by the collaborative partners is ongoing for furniture, technology and supplies for the facility.
STAFFING AND HOURS OF OPERATION
Initially, the first-floor services and access to the computer lab will be managed by volunteers identified by House of Hope, the Martin County Library System and United Way of Martin County’s Martin Volunteers program. House of Hope also will have staff available during specific hours to work on-site with program participants that may need access to computers or assistance with online programs. Hours of operation will be structured based on community need and the availability of volunteer supervisors.
All organized and scheduled classes will be staffed by instructors from one or more of the partner organizations and/or other specific program partners. As the lease holder, House of Hope has accepted primary responsibility for managing the daily operations and maintenance of the building.
THE PROJECT PARTNERS
Fundraising, planning and program development for the Historic Golden Gate Center for Enrichment has been a team effort by a unique collaboration of partners:
- House of Hope, hohmartin.org
- United Way of Martin County, liveunitedmc.org
- Martin County Community Foundation, yourmccf.org
- Indian River State College, irsc.edu
- Martin County Library System, library.martin.fl.us
- Habitat for Humanity of Martin County, habitatmartin.org
- Project LIFT, projectliftmc.com
- Martin County Board of County Commissioners, martin.fl.us
- Friends of the Historic Golden Gate Community, stuarthistoricgoldengate.org
For additional information about the project or to get involved as a partner, funder or volunteer, please visit www.hohmartin.org, or contact Rob Ranieri at email@example.com or (772) 286-4673, ext. 1001.