The dream of new Dixwell Community “Q” House rising again moved closer to realization with a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday morning.
With the sun shining overhead and cold air nipping at their noses, 300 people gathered at the site of old Q House to celebrate the journey that had led them to that moment.
Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison said she usually isn’t an emotional person, but looking out at the crowd as the band and cheerleaders of her alma mater Hillhouse High marched by, she grew little misty-eyed.
“I’m emotional,” said Morrison, who helped the lead the years-long effort to obtain state money to demolish the empty old Q House and build a new one.
The old Q House closed its doors in 2003. A group of concerned citizens pushed city and state officials to prioritize the rebuilding of the center that had been the heartbeat of the neighborhood since the 1920s.
Not everybody who helped push for a new Q House got to see it through to the groundbreaking. Morrison Saturday made sure to acknowledge people like Frances C. Russell, a member of the Concerned Citizens for the Dixwell Q House who passed away in May.
“She was the calm,” Morrison said. “Even in her sickness she never missed a meeting.” The passing of architect Regina Winters also was recognized. Winters designed the new Q House. The firm of her mentor, Ken Boroson, will carry the project forward.
A special presentation was made to Jan Parker by former Board of Alders President Jorge Perez and the Black and Hispanic Caucus.
Construction is scheduled to being in spring 2018, city Engineer Giovanni Zinn said. It is expected to take 12 to 18 months.
“The sun went down on the old Q House,” Mayor Toni Harp said. “Today we celebrate that the sun will soon rise on the new Q House.”
Alder Morrison made an appeal to people to support an endowment that has been established for the new Q House that she said will ensure that it will never be closed again. Supporters can “Buy a Brick, Build A Legacy,” through the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Bricks start at $100. (To receive updates click here to register with the Black and Hispanic Caucus.) Morrison said the goal is to raise $3 million to seed the endowment.
Elsie Chapman, president of the New Haven Free Public Library Foundation, made a pitch for people to also support the Stetson Library, which will be an anchor tenant in the new Q House along with Cornell Scott Hill Health Center. The library is looking to raise $2 million to outfit the new library with furniture and new technology and is more than halfway to its goal. She reminded attendees Saturday that any gift from $50 to $10,000 would be matched by the Seedlings Foundation. (Click here to give to the Stetson Library campaign.)