Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Band Fund Raising Hits Sour Note; Renovation Project Is $900,000 Short

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Band Fund Raising Hits Sour Note; Renovation Project Is $900,000 Short

Article excerpt

Byline: Alliniece T. Andino, Times-Union staff writer

For more than a century, the downtown Jacksonville church beckoned souls and spread its ministry through the community, feeding the homeless and consoling unwed teen mothers.

Now the church building, commonly called Snyder Memorial, is being rehabilitated into a music hall.

But the restoration efforts by the St. Johns River City Band, which now owns the historic granite building at Laura and Monroe streets, have hit a major setback. The Legislature decided not to fund a $285,050 historic preservation grant the group was expecting.

Work that started in February on the 100-year-old building may have to stop this month or next because of a lack of funding.

The organization has become a poster child for the tightening of state funding, said Dick Brown, president of the band's board of directors.

Executive Director Bobi McGinnis said the estimated cost for the entire project is $2.3 million.

"Losing the $285,000 . . . has really hurt us," McGinnis said. "So much has been cut this year, a lot of organizations have been hurt."

McGinnis described what will be called the Snyder Music Center. The altar area was extended about 10 feet to accommodate the River City Band's 22-piece brass band and 19- to 20-piece big band. The main area, the former Methodist sanctuary, can seat 250 to 300 spectators. Another 300 or more can watch from a side area separated by doors that roll away.

Classrooms will be upstairs in which musicians can practice and young performers can be instructed. The River City Band plans to use the building as a place to nurture young artists and their talents, Brown said.

The first phase is under way and is expected to cost $1.6 million. About $700,000 was raised and spent by the organization to improve the sanctuary and reception areas, bathrooms, plumbing and electricity.

Brian Barton is a historic preservation planner for the Florida Department of State's Division of Historical Resources. He said the St. Johns River City Band grant application was ranked 29th among 55 recommended for funding. However, the state Legislature funded only the first nine projects. …

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