Grants revitalize Art Tatum Home & Junction community

The “One Roof Initiative” will transform The Art Tatum Home
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 5:37 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - One community is getting a home makeover that will revitalize the entire neighborhood and it all started from one famous Jazz musician.

Art Tatum’s home has been in the Junction Neighborhood of Toledo since the early 1900′s but hasn’t been used in more than 50 years. Now two grants will help revitalize the home and build back up the surrounding community.

“The Art Tatum childhood home is such a special home in our community,” says Calvin Sweeney, President of the Art Tatum Zone. “Primarily because the famous jazz musician Art Tatum was born there and when you know his story, you know he had meager beginnings, and yet he accomplished such great things.”

Calvin and Christine say they are thrilled to receive two grants from the Promedica Junction Neighborhood Fund totaling $400,000 to support the “under one roof” initiative.

“It’s exciting for us on a personal level,” shares Christine Sweeney, Executive Director of Art Tatum Zone. “I grew up in the Junction Neighborhood, right on Belmont and Junction. So this place is in my heart and I know the people who grew up in this neighborhood deserve to have hope every single morning.”

$100,000 will be used to start revitalizing the home into the Art Tatum Zone, a museum for children and families that will provide a multi-sensory learning experience about the musician and the neighborhood.

The rest of the funds will go toward assisting the surrounding communities with home repairs and building a workforce continuum.

“We’re going to be training high school students and adults, and I think that’s unique. High school students will have an opportunity to have shadowing and internships, as well as employment,” explains Christine. “We’re also excited about 30 entrepreneurs from the Junction Neighborhood getting supported in meaningful ways to connect with business plan development and mentorship and funding that will help them be successful.”

Christine says they are excited to tackle both the places the community inhabits and to transform the lives of the people who live in the Junction community.

“To become world-renowned and to have that house to be a metaphor in our community, for other people to know, you know what? Art Tatum didn’t have it easy but he overcame and achieved his goals, and you can do that too,” Calvin says.

The Sweeneys say this is just the start. They are already in talks to buy the lot next door to transform into a music center.

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