The Old Brick Renaissance began in 1997 and has continued to develop with a series of action steps:
Tenth Anniversary. On June 1, 1997, Old Brick Episcopal Corporation celebrated its ten years of ownership of Old Brick with a community open house. Community participants reflected on the history of Old Brick, the hopes and dreams that moved the churches to purchase it in 1987, and the vision of Old Brick for the 21st Century.
Payment of Debt. At the Tenth Anniversary Celebration, the Corporation made the final payment on a ten-year, $50,000 purchase money loan from the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. With this loan paid, some of the monthly revenue from auditorium rentals and office leases could, for the first time, be allocated to a restoration fund.
Grant. The Corporation applied for a grant from the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa and received $6,000 to reimburse roof repair costs and $5,000 to apply to architectural services for restoration planning.
Architects. The Board of Directors compiled all the restoration studies, recommendations, and proposals that had been made over 20 years but for which there had never been sufficient funding. The Board sent requests for proposals to seven architectural firms known for expertise in historical preservation and restoration. The Board selected Kevin Monson of Neumann Monson Architects because of his prior projects, reports from people who had worked with him, and his strong reputation for transforming visions into architectural reality.
Visioning Session. In order to strengthen and enhance its relationships with the Iowa City community and the University of Iowa, Old Brick invited a broad spectrum of people to a visioning session on April 25, 1998. The Corporation engaged Linda Miller, an experienced facilitator from Des Moines, to help design and lead the discussions on Saturday morning
and afternoon. The participants included two City Council members, City staff, the Iowa City arts community, University offices, tenants, historic preservationists, and campus ministers. They reflected on the role Old Brick had played in so many people's lives over its 150-year history and talked eagerly about the possibilities for its active role in the life of the Iowa City community and the University in the 21st Century.
The discussion groups buzzed with excitement as they identified specific uses of Old Brick, and the Board of Directors was assured that the Old Brick Renaissance was on the right track.
Committee Organization. Recognizing that the Old Brick Renaissance would require concentrated efforts in several areas, the Board of Directors established a Program Committee, a Finance Task Force, a Communications Team, and a Restoration Steering Committee in August 1998. These groups have begun meeting regularly to develop plans and ideas and have invited participants from various areas to add broader perspectives to the efforts and to provide additional volunteer effort to carry out the tasks.
Rental Policies. In recent years, the Old Brick auditorium had become a popular place for fraternity parties on Friday and Saturday nights. The rental revenue from the parties comprised a significant portion of Old Brick's income and helped the Corporation break even over the years. But the growing reputation as a party place was not consistent with Old Brick's goals and mission statements.
Therefore, in October 1998, the Board of Directors adopted stricter rental policies and established a 2:00 a.m. curfew. No fraternity parties have been held at Old Brick since then, creating a rental revenue shortfall and pushing the Board of Directors to become more aggressive in intentional programming of more desirable events at Old Brick.
Community Advisory Council. The successful visioning session in April 1998 demonstrated the ongoing need for community input into the activities and the restoration of Old Brick. A Community Advisory Council of 15 members was formed, and people from diverse constituencies were invited to serve. Almost everyone who was invited agreed to serve,
and the Council held its first meeting on January 28, 1999. It meets periodically and will provide opportunities for communication among the Old Brick organization, the Iowa City community, and the University.
Restoration. As part of Old Brick's Renaissance, the Board of Directors has developed a plan for the restoration, rehabilitation, and renewal of Old Brick. The first priority of this project is the restoration and preservation of the historic structure. The second priority is to upgrade the auditorium to make it a more functional community center. Other project elements will include revamping of the Clinton Street entrance, reconfiguring part of the lower level to provide more efficient space, and upgrading the office wing with basic maintenance improvements.