Reviving Charlottesville’s Jefferson School was filled with challenges. So when the community partnership was ready to execute its plan, the first obstacle would be finding a proven business banking partner to help see the project through.
“We contacted 17 banks,” Frank Stoner said, a managing partner of the Jefferson School partnership. “Atlantic Union Bank was the only bank that would talk to us.”
Not only was a recession in full swing, but there was also much political angst regarding the future
of the school.
Located on the border of two historic Charlottesville neighborhoods, the Jefferson School has existed as a community institution since the end of the Civil War, when it was opened as a school for freed slaves. In the 50s and 60s, it was an elementary school and, in 1965, it was finally integrated.
In 2006, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and the school board turned it over to the city.
After years of meetings with a city-appointed working group, featuring the African American community, neighborhood leaders and other stakeholders, the committee put forth a plan.
They would continue to operate half of the building as a recreation center while the remainder would be filled with non-profit organizations, anchored by the African American Heritage Center.
“All of those people recognized that this building was the last vestige of the African American community,” said Andrea Douglas, Executive Director of the African American Heritage Center.
And at Atlantic Union Bank, it was this same commitment to community that we were so proud to be a part of.
Mr. Stoner recalls that without Atlantic Union Bank, there would have been no project. “Had they not have been willing to consider a deal at the time that was clearly outside of the box, we wouldn’t have gotten the deal done.”
Yet done it is. And today, thanks to Atlantic Union Bank, the Jefferson School remains where it belongs—at the heart of everything.