Author: Sarah Saydun, Development Associate
Did you know that Cambridge Community Center’s doors opened 85 years ago? CCC was founded in the Tarbell School (which is still our main building) by a group of black ministers who were concerned about the health and welfare of the children in the Riverside neighborhood of Cambridge. The Center established the first nursery school in the area and offered a wide range of services through the years, including job training for women entering the manufacturing workforce during World War II.
In 1943 the Center purchased the Tarbell School, one of the last wood-frame public schools in Cambridge, and renovated it from the ground up. A full-sized gymnasium was built in 1948 and the Center’s basketball team played a regular Friday night game (the first open to African American players in the neighborhood), followed by a community dance.
85 years later, we still hold our programming in the same building! Many of the children who attend our after school classes learn and play in the same classrooms as their parents and grandparents. The reading room where people met to read and exchange ideas is now our computer room. We’ve been cooking the Senior Thanksgiving Luncheon in the same kitchen for decades; and basketball teams have been practicing here since 1948.
As you can imagine, 85 years is a long time for a building to stand. We’ve had to do lots of maintenance over the years. Through the years we’ve focused mostly on the interior, unfortunately, that means that the exterior has begun to fall apart. We launched our first capital campaign since the 1970’s in 2008. Phase I of our capital campaign raised approximately $175,000. This money was used to
· Add a new roof on the gym
· Fully restore slates on our main building
· Build a new playground
· Fully restore fire escapes and fire doors from the second floor
· And add new front hall flooring
As part of Phase II we plan to
· Replace the main building’s concrete/asbestos shingles with clapboards;
· Install energy-efficient windows in all of the buildings
· Create a new, aesthetically appropriate main entrance-way and energy efficient doors
· Remove the current wheelchair ramp to allow restoration of our basement-level windows
· Reconstruct a new wheelchair ramp and the interior gymnasium wheelchair ramp
· And insulate the exterior walls of the building
The main building of our Center is a significant part of our history and a cornerstone of the community. Our building is key to all of these and many more activities, providing a warm, welcoming, and adaptable space in which the best impulses of our community are made real. In order to ensure that CCC stands for years to come, we need to make these critical physical improvements to our facilities.
Click here to see a full report on our Capital Campaign, including pictures from throughout the years:
Click here to support our fundraising efforts!