125th Anniversary House creates
flurry of volunteer activity at St. Colman Church

(Plain Press, April 2005) As part of the 125th Anniversary Celebration of St. Colman Church, St. Colman, along with its Church in the City partner parishes Our Lady of Help Christians and St. Christopher, decided to rehab an abandoned neighborhood house to provide affordable rental housing to a family in the neighborhood. In a February 22nd e-mail to Anniversary House friends, St. Colman Outreach Minister Eileen Kelly announced “we have a house.”

According to Kelly, the Stark Group, which owned a house at 7015 Guthrie, put a stay on the city of Cleveland’s planned demolition of the vacant house. When Councilman Matt Zone received the demolition list he asked Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) to figure out why the Stark Group wanted to stop the demolition since the house had been left empty for years. Zone and DSCDO remembered that the Anniversary House Committee was very interested in houses on Guthrie Ave. and called St. Colman, said Kelly.

The house on Guthrie was on the list of houses the Anniversary House Committee was looking at. The city agreed to stop the demolition if the Stark Group would sell the house to DSCDO for $1. The Stark Group agreed. DSCDO in turn gave the house to St. Colman Anniversary House Committee. On February 25th the group received title to the property.

Upon getting word that the committee would be getting a house, Kelly immediately began contacting friends of the Anniversary House through an e-mail network. A day after her first request for volunteers went out, Kelly received an offer from Fr. John Chlebo, pastor of St. Christopher’s Church, to pay for the closing costs. Jan Yandell, pastor of People’s Hope United Methodist Church on W. 65th and Bridge, offered the assistance of the Nehemiah Mission, a group she heads which is “a center for people who want to come to the city to help people in need.” Besides regular weekend volunteers, the group has four sets of college students coming in March, said Yandell.

By the end of the first week in March a volunteer set up a Yahoo group on the internet so volunteers working on the house could share information.

As the month of March progressed, a local development corporation donated the services of a staff member to do the specs for the project. Volunteers from Our Lady of Help Christians secured the house with new plywood.

On Saturday, March 12, Deacon Bill Corrigan blessed the house and members of the three parishes toured the house and filled ten bags with garbage.

Donations were secured to help pay for the insurance for the house. In addition, while serving on jury duty March 14th, Kelly ran into Jim LaRue, also on jury duty. LaRue, who is a housing rehab expert serving as a consultant to the EcoVillage, offered to help make the house on Guthrie, located within the EcoVillage boundaries, an energy efficient building.

Later that week, Kelly reports, the group was offered access to a house being torn down in Rocky River to make way for a larger house. With permission of the owner, they were able to secure doors, window hardware, mirrors, electrical fixtures, drapes, curtains, curtain rods and other materials to use on Guthrie.

As the Plain Press goes to the printer, the Anniversary House Committee is meeting to examine the specs for the house and to plan their rehab strategy. For more information contact anniversary_house@yahoo.com.


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