Editor's Note: The Baymiller Street restoration project is an amazing intersection of St. Barnabas' people and ministries! In this article, John Nolan explains the project and how it got its nickname as "the Episcopal Build", while recently retired St. Barnabas rector Rev. Dr. Nancy Turner Jones explores her family's unique connection to the project.
19th Century Building Gets New Life
as Homes for Residents
By: John Nolan
A 19th century building that had been in danger of collapse in recent years has been renovated to provide permanent new homes for residents of Cincinnati's West End.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati dedicated the three townhouse units on Friday, May 13, along Baymiller Street near the St. Barnabas-supported Seven Hills (Findlay Street) Neighborhood Houses ministry.
In June, Habitat will sell two of the two-story townhouses to families headed by Sylvester Bullucks and Conrad and Encosma Napier. Seven Hills Neighborhood House owns the third unit and intends to offer it as an affordable-rental home. Habitat served as general contractor to renovate the Seven Hills unit.
The homeowners, who put in their required "sweat equity" work on the homes in order to work off the down payments on their mortgage loans, were elated. They spoke at the dedication ceremony to thank the donors, volunteers and corporate sponsors that made the project possible.
"We did it!" Conrad Napier said. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Substantial donations from Christ Church Cathedral and a family foundation administered by our retired rector, the Rev. Nancy Turner Jones, gave the project a jump-start. Habitat honored those contributions by dubbing the renovation of the first townhouse "the Episcopal build."
The project was a lengthy saga. The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority helped obtain the property for Habitat, and the city of Cincinnati invested tens of thousands of dollars of improvement funding to ensure that the 1870s-era building was structurally stable.
Corporate and private donors supplemented the project's finances. Several hundred volunteers from companies, schools and churches worked with Habitat and AmeriCorp personnel on the project during 15 months of labor. Among the volunteers were members of the Habitat-affiliated Eastside Coalition of Churches, to which St. Barnabas belongs.
Along with other renovations taking place in the neighborhood near Interstate 75, Habitat's leadership hopes this project will help prompt a revitalization of the area to generate affordable housing. Habitat owns four vacant lots on nearby York Street and is making plans to build new homes there.
An Episcopal Build
By: The Rev. Dr. Nancy Turner Jones
It is such a privilege! John Nolan recently invited me to write about the Huffman Foundation’s grant to help support the Habitat renovation of the Baymiller townhouse units.
This donation came about for two important reasons. First, having served at Christ Church Cathedral for a number of years, I saw first-hand how gentrification of a Cincinnati neighborhood often forces out long-time residents because the properties are no longer affordable. Secondly, it was important to me to honor my beloved St. Barnabas, and its long relationship with Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses.
The Huffman Foundation is a family foundation set up by my aunt and uncle, Harold and Anna Huffman.
Harold Huffman was born into a German farm family in Fairfield, Ohio. He commuted to the School of Applied Science (which is now part of the University of Cincinnati) where he studied engineering.
Harold began as a co-op student with Hamilton Tool Company in Hamilton, Ohio, where he was later hired as a mechanic and eventually became president of the company. Hamilton Tool built specialized paper printing equipment. Harold received 33 patents for his inventions with the company.
Years later, through hard work and modest living, Harold and Anna used their wealth to set up the foundation.
My dear aunt died of cancer in 1991, but Harold kept going. With time on his hands, he discovered the fun of the stock market for himself, and even with his old dial-up connection, that old farm boy managed to turn quite a profit – so much that his broker said he began to listen to Harold’s stock tips.
If you saw Harold in his snap-on suspenders and plaid flannel shirt, you would have never guessed the intellect and curiosity he carried. Why would a couple, who lived over sixty years of their life in a modest home that they built with their own hands, work to set up a foundation whose prime objective was to help make the world a better place?
After his death in 2010, the foundation had the opportunity to turn my aunt’s dream, the 22-acre farm in Fairfield, into an interactive park for children with a hands-on educational venue for school-aged youth, promoting sustainability, ecology and healthy living.
Our next project focused on health: The foundation gave money to set up an endowed chair for research at the Brain Tumor Center at the University of Cincinnati, and additional funds for ongoing research and therapeutics. We also gave a grant to help set up a women’s health clinic in Tanzania with a maternal and child health endowment fund.
Yes, it is a privilege – to see the good work being done, to strive to make the world a better place, to be a part in creating affordable housing for God’s people.
May God bless all the families, those moving into Habitat houses with their sweat equity and all those who contribute and work to make it possible, knowing that serving is a privilege.