Riverside House restoration complete

Local contractor lent knowledge, insight

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

The Turnage Company worked 30 feet off the ground to replace the roof and gutters

The Turnage Company worked 30 feet off the ground to replace the roof and gutters

One of the area’s “forces for good” is also a fundraising powerhouse. During the past 90 years, the Junior League of Jacksonville has raised millions for the more than 50 community agencies it supports. But sometimes the focus needs to be turned inwards.

When the League bought the building on the corner of Copeland and Park streets in 1980 its members raised over $260,000 for renovations, successfully meeting the terms of a challenge grant. Thirty-two years later, the League was at it again.

Significant storm damage from 2012’s Tropical Storms Beryl and Debby, as well as age-related mold, rot and termite damage, put the League in a position of taking on debt or once again raising funds for the 87-year-old building.

Meg Sacks, 2012-2013 president, was faced with a seemingly daunting task of overseeing both the renovation done by The Turnage Company, 4114 Herschel Street, and a fundraising campaign. “Although we have a reserve account for such emergencies, we are also asking members for donations and have raised about $90,000 to date,” Sacks said. “We also took out a line of credit to start the process, but will pay it back through event rentals and The District Church, a tenant.”

The three-phase renovations consisted of both interior and exterior work and the project is being done in three phases. Repairs included a new roof, gutters and downspouts, repainting of the exterior and re-landscaping. Inside, the only room that did not sustain damage was the Sustainers’ Lounge; otherwise, all rooms including the kitchen, reception hall and auditorium were renovated.

One storage closet off the reception hall was converted into a “bride’s room” and another will be converted into a lift for ADA compliance as part of Phase 3, along with parking lot and bathroom improvements. The League has booked over a dozen wedding receptions so far this year into the hall which can seat 24 round tables of eight. New A/V and sound system complete the package, making Riverside House desirable for meetings, seminars, lectures, recitals and other events.

Riverside House auditorium still sports the original seating, but now with a central aisle more conducive to weddings

Riverside House auditorium still sports the original seating, but now with a central aisle more conducive to weddings

“A key player who did a fabulous job during the project was Sheryl Parramore, ASID, of Parramore Interiors,” said Tom Turnage, president of The Turnage Company. “Sheryl coordinated all of the selections, finishes and styles for the project and deserves a lot of credit for the final product.
“Other partners include Townsend Roofing, Thermodyne Services (A/C), Smid’s Carpet and Tile, Armorshine Floors, Vereen Plumbing, Always Painting, Bold City Irrigation and Donnell Landscape Design.

“Of course, the project wouldn’t have happened without the leadership and coordination of Meg Sacks, Meredith Schmidt Guess, and Anita Sanford of the Junior League,” concluded Turnage.

The Junior League of Jacksonville is a mid-size league compared to others in the Association of Junior Leagues of America; it has about 200 active members (up to age 40) and over 600 sustainees (members over age 40). For the League’s 90th anniversary, the goal is to add 90 new members.

At its May 7 annual meeting, Meredith Schmidt Guess was elected president for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which begins June 1. Two days later, the League was honored by the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center for being the founder of that agency, then stepping back to allow them to operate as their own non-profit organization.
The League’s community action projects includes collecting things like school supplies for Annie R. Morgan Elementary School; American Red Cross comfort care kits for the homeless; over 226,500 diapers for Diaper Need, and underwear and socks for Dignity U Wear.

Members also volunteer over 3,000 hours to three programs, such as Done in a Day, Kids in the Kitchen and C.A.R.E.S. (Caring Assistance Resource Education Support for Annie R. Morgan Elementary and George Washington Carver Elementary).

The Junior League will soon be planning fundraisers such as the annual River City Scavenger Hunt through the Historic District and a new Holiday Market at the Hyatt.

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