Once the project is complete, the building will house the Don and Heide Wolff Jazz Institute and National Black Radio Hall of Fame
Harris-Stowe State University on Thursday kicked off an estimated $3 million renovation and expansion of the historic former Vashon Community Center, located on the southwest end of the university’s main campus in Midtown.
The renovation will include an addition on the building’s north side that will serve as a new accessible entry, officials said, bringing the facility to 15,459 square feet. The work is expected to be completed in fall 2022.
Once the project is complete, the building will house the Don and Heide Wolff Jazz Institute and National Black Radio Hall of Fame on its upper level. The building’s lower level will house orientation and support spaces for the university, as well as classroom spaces, officials said.
The building, at the corner of Market Street and Compton Avenue, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Opened in 1937, it was one of a handful of public recreational facilities available to the Black community in St. Louis due to segregation at the time. HSSU received the center and its land from the city of St. Louis for $10 in 1999, according to a campus history. In 2009, the university received a $1 million federal grant from the National Park Service to stabilize the building’s structure, and the exterior was restored in 2013.
The building’s floor plan also includes a repository for historical documents to hold works from former U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay Sr., D-St. Louis; the late Frankie Muse Freeman, prominent St. Louis attorney and civil rights leader; and the late Henry Givens Jr., president emeritus of HSSU.
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