Harvest grant to finish FAHI museum upgrade

February 3, 2013

From Bulletin staff reporters: 

The Harvest Foundation has approved an $8,425 grant to the Fayette Area Historical Initiative (FAHI) to complete renovations to its museum and multicultural center, the foundation announced Friday. 

The Pick Up the Pace! (PUP) grant will fund the work on the former Imperial Savings and Loan Association Building at 211 Fayette St.

“Renovations to this property will enable us to have a permanent, high trafficked presence on Fayette Street,” Curtis Millner Sr., chairman of the FAHI board of directors, stated in the release. “Upon completion of the renovations, the building will house our African American Museum and Multi-Cultural Center, a lending library, and serve as a meeting space for organizations and community programs.” 

Grant funds will be used to upgrade the electrical system, put awnings up over the rear entrances to the building, install a security system, buy a computer system and software, and replace covers on the ceiling lights, Millner said Saturday.

The funds also will cover the cost of the new heating system. Millner said the new system is in place but FAHI is awaiting a bill for it, which he hopes the grant will cover along with the other work. 

FAHI bought the building for $35,000 in 2011. Some of the renovations that have been finished since then include replacing floors, gutters and downspouts, repair of water damage to walls and installation of emergency exit lights, Millner has said. Doors and door frames also have been repaired or replaced, he added.

FAHI also is getting information from the Phoenix Community Development Corp. on upgrading the facade of the building. Millner said because it is an historical building, the outside cannot be changed, but the front bricks need to be washed and painting and repairs are needed on the side. 

Phoenix has told FAHI to have the work done, submit a bill and it would help with the cost, Millner added.

A tentative opening of the museum and multicultural center has been planned for mid-month, but Millner said there is no definite date yet. But he added that some of the renovations would not hinder an opening. 

Millner said FAHI owns the building, but there is an outstanding note that contributions have been sought to cover. He added that he hopes the Harvest grant will spur people to make good on their pledges so that fundraising can end.

Operating funds will continue to be sought, he said. 

FAHI also has new projects in mind, Millner said, including a brochure on historical sites in the area and an online grave registration.

The grant was the second of 10 PUP grants Harvest plans to issue. Each will be up to $10,000 and go toward projects that will be completed within 90 days, Harvest Program Officer Angela Logan said. 

“We are excited to partner with FAHI on this project,” Gladys Hairston, Harvest Foundation program associate, said in the release. “Renovations to this historic site can potentially serve as a key anchor for future renovation projects in that area. We believe these renovations to an area that was once a vibrant center of social and business activities in the community will attract visitors from outside the region to our community, serving as another component in the revitalization of uptown and beyond.”

PUP projects must relate to one or more of Harvest’s focus areas: health, education and community vitality. Recipients must be recognized nonprofits, religious institutions, government entities or “fiscal agents” acting for others, so long as the purpose is charitable, Harvest said. 

More grant recipients are expected to be named in the coming days, Logan said last week.


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