On November 6, Dixwell Q-House executives and partners hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the reopened community center that ended with public tours of the new building.
Brian Zhang, collaborating photographer
After 18 years and around $ 16 million in funding, more than 800 radiant children and their parents gathered on Saturday at 197 Dixwell Ave. as community members celebrated the reopening of Q-House, Dixwell’s beloved community center.
The Dixwell Community Center, or Q-House, held its groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday at 11 a.m., celebrating the rebirth of part of New Haven’s history, present and future. After a dynamic fanfare and cheerleading performance courtesy of Blue Steel Drumline and Hillhouse High School at Southern Connecticut State University, the event saw a series of guest speakers from city leaders and the Q-House Advisory Board, including Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison, former mayor Toni Harp and the mayor re-elect Justin Elicker. Together they praised the support of the many partner organizations that made the refurbishment and reopening of the center possible, as well as the resilience and financial contributions of the Dixwell community as they pushed to ‘keep the house’. The ceremony attendees were then divided into small groups as they toured the two-story building.
“The concept is about empowering everyone,” said Morrison, who has led the rebuilding of the center over the years. “[The Q-House] is a place to hope and dream and to exercise these things to make them come true.
Through its various accommodations, the new Q-House provides residents of all walks of life with the basic building blocks needed to “navigate and innovate” in those dreams, according to Morrison, who herself signed up for a weekly gymnastics class at the. center when she was a child. Q-House emphasizes education and recreation, Morrison said.
On Saturdays, featured facilities include a library, seniors lounge, museum, game rooms, gymnasiums, and kitchens. While accessibility and orientation of specific areas in the Q cater to certain age groups depending on the time of day, services are provided free of charge and locals can reserve space for themselves. , their family or their friends.
Although the current building is the center’s third interpretation, Morrison explained that its original purpose as a 1920s settlement house has not changed. Then as today, the center has strived to care for those with limited access to economic and social opportunities, regardless of race and socio-economic status. Saturday’s tour left many memories of the various social activities in the Q that they or their children had previously participated in.
Elsa Holahan, a junior at Hillhouse High School and a youth director on the centre’s advisory board, said Q’s story is based on the “stories and tales” of community members, especially those of Black New. Haveners. Q’s new in-house museum, named after Harp and her husband, captures these struggles and achievements of New Haven’s black community through a multimedia exhibit of photographs, art, and historical documents.
Henry Fernandez, executive director of Leadership, Education & Athletics in Partnership, a New Haven-based youth mentorship program, explained that the architecture of the current building has not left its history behind. It retains the African and religious motifs characteristic of the first version of the Q in 1924, thanks to the efforts of Fernandez’s friend and compatriot, Regina Winters-Toussaint, who designed the building before her death in 2016.
“This [building] is a testimony of who [Winters] was as an architect, ”Fernandez said. “It is a testament to his faith, and it is a testament to his love for children as the people of New Haven.”
Saturday’s ceremony marked the start of the Q-House’s rekindled legacy. New additions, including an operational space for Cornell Scott-Hill Health, will be coming soon. Speakers at the event often highlighted Q’s commitment to empowering city children. The newly renovated Stetson Library, for example, caters specifically to young people. It now includes an expanded collection of African-American literature from the diaspora and a teen space with interactive technology. Likewise, the young residents have played a central role in preserving the “big giant family” that is Ward 22 – where “everyone looks out for each other,” said local Valerie McKinnie.
“We now have the ability to create our own everlasting memories,” Holahan said. “The Dixwell Q-House that we joyfully stand before today will serve unequivocally to support… the next generation of New Haven as they conquer time. “
See here for the full layout of the new Q-House.