EAST PROVIDENCE â€” For 29 years, the city-owned Weaver House on Grove Avenue sat vacant, shuttered by the city in 1983 because of its age and need for major repairs.
"The 29 years the Weaver House sat dormant was a great loss to the city. Today, it's a beautifully restored building that is a vital part of the community once again," East Providence Mayor Bruce Rogers told a gathering of city and state officials Tuesday at a public open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the Weaver House restoration project.
Among those attending Tuesday's event was Jonathan Stevens, deputy chiefs of staff for Gov. Lincoln Chafee; Ernest J. Carlucci, deputy district director for Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline; East Providence Planning Director Jeanne Boyle; and East Providence Community Development Coordinator David Bachrach.
The five-year, $400,000 project has breathed new life into the 1,000-square-foot circa 1865 building, which at one time, was home to the Visiting Nurse Association, YMCA and Girl Scouts.
Today, the building houses the East Bay Community Action Program's (EBCAP) East Providence youth center. The organization, which provides health and human services to the residents of Rhode Island's east bay, signed a lease with the city in December to become the first tenants of the newly-restored building. Currently, EBCAPâ€™s only facility in East Providence is located in Riverside, on Bullocks Point Avenue.
Under the current lease proposal with EBCAP, the city will receive $12,000 annually.
The Clothing Collaborative, which provides work appropriate clothing at no cost to low-income men and women who are completing job training and education programs, is leasing another area on the first floor, while the second floor is available for lease.
"We moved in a month ago and we love it," said Chris Matteson, a case manager for the East Provience Youth Center. "We used to be housed at the Watters Annex School, but that location was drafty and cold. We actually have heat here!"
The Weaver House was donated to the city in the 1940s by the home's original occupants, the Weaver Family. Over the years, the building has been used by various groups, including the Visiting Nurse Association. The closing of the building in 1983 was followed by years of community debate over whether or not the city should restore the house. A decision was made in favor of restoration and the project got under way in 2005.
According to Bachrach, the renovations were paid for with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The work, for the most part, was completed in 2010, but the city delayed opening the building until potential tenants were found. The terms of the Community Development Block Grant stipulated that the building had to benefit low or moderate income city residents.
In his remarks just prior to the ribbon-cutting, Mayor Rodgers noted that U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse had recently sent a Congressional certificate of recognition marking the occasion.
"This is a great day for the City of East Providence," he said.