June 27, 2014 by Alexis Carlsson
The grand opening of the Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships was celebrated June 12, with remarks from President John A. Fry and the Lindy family, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the 19th-century estate.
The Dornsife Center, located at 35th and Spring Garden streets, will be a multidisciplinary resource center for residents of the Powelton Village and Mantua communities, nonprofit partners, Drexel students and staff, faith-based organizations and local business owners.
Every space within the building is multipurpose and can hold various activities such as free law clinics, health and wellness programs, educational programs, art and dance collaborations, and engineering demonstrations. As a hub for social entrepreneurship, civic innovation, intergenerational interaction and educational programming, the community will be able to address many issues through collaborative problem solving.
According to DrexelNow, Fry said, “We’ve worked with neighbors to create something that’s more than a Drexel facility, and more than a community center.”
“This shared vision was made possible by two of the nation’s great philanthropists, the Dornsifes, and I’m gratified that they believe in Drexel’s ability to help neighborhoods transform.”
This collaborative initiative is funded by a $10 million gift from Dana and David Dornsife, established two years ago in conjunction with the Lindy family. Philip B. Lindy, real-estate mogul and philanthropist, secured the estate and the mansion is now named the Lindy House.
Gregory Kunkel, a junior international area studies major, had the opportunity to tour the Dornsife Center during the grand opening.
“I think the Dornsife Center is great for community involvement because I live in the community surrounding the estate and it is a great use of the space and the large lot of property,” Kunkel said.
The needs of the community have been well-integrated into the design of the property. Meetings, workshops and public forums can be conducted in the new innovate space, providing the community with a place to come together, educate and enjoy recreational activities in a positive environment. As Drexel University makes strides to fulfill Fry’s goal of becoming “the most civically engaged university in the United States,” the Dornsife Center is to become a cornerstone of pioneering this urban initiative.
“This clearly aligns with President John Fry’s initiative to become more civically engaged, though I am not sure how the student body will respond to it. The general student body has a lot more concerns close to home, but we have to look at the bigger picture,” Kunkel said.
The renovations of the 1861 estate span three buildings: the Lindy House, the carriage hall and Ryan Hall. The Lindy House is the centerpiece of the property, boasting 19th-century renovated architecture, and will be used as a learning terrace, equipped with laptop kiosks and multipurpose space. The carriage hall, once home to an Irish family business of carriage making, will be home to the numerous health and wellness programs, dance and art collaborations, film viewings, and community cooking classes. Ryan Hall, built in 1954 as a schoolhouse for the deaf and disabled, will be the new location for the KEYSPOT, a computer lab with regular computer use trainings and public hours for all community members.
Students, organizations or groups interested in becoming involved with the Dornsife Center can email [email protected].