Return To Glory

The newly refurbished Robert H. Jackson Center has an improved look, and it comes just in time for the Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s planned visit Friday, May 17.

The center’s walls, doors, porch and parking lot have been renovated thanks to donations from the Gebbie and Sheldon foundations. James Johnson, Jackson Center president and chief executive officer, said the two nonprofit foundations donated around $80,000 for the work to be done on the facility. The Sheldon Foundation paid for the parking lot and porch to be renovated, and the Gebbie Foundation paid for the refinishing of the inside wooden walls and the Fourth Street entrance door.

Johnson said the Fourth Street side parking lot was repaved by Lake Shore Paving, which took out the old asphalt and put in a new foundation.

“The parking lot was crumbling and had all kinds of cracks. It was a terrible mess. It was unsafe to walk in,” he said.

Along with repaving the parking lot the entrance was widened by moving a street light post. Johnson said the wider entrance will make it safer for visitors to maneuver in and out of the parking lot.

“The city was nice enough to move the light pole to give the entrance more room. It makes a big difference,” Johnson said.

The center’s porch floor, columns inside the railing and the ceiling were refurbished by Dave Gollnick at Creative Custom Design. Johnson said wood in the porch’s floor, columns and ceiling had rotted and needed to be replaced. The work was started in February and finished within two weeks.

“The ceiling had dropped, so sections were removed and the rotten wood was replaced,” Johnson said.

Painting Unlimited did the refinishing of the interior walls and the Fourth Street entrance doorway. Johnson said it took about three weeks for the walls to be refurbished.

“It was one of those things you don’t realize how bad it was until the work was done,” Johnson said about the newly refinished walls.

Other work was done by volunteers who painted the banquet/perpetrator room and students from Jamestown High School and Jamestown Community College volunteered during two weekends to clean the inside and outside of the facility.

Along with the renovations, more items will be on display in the center for Roberts’ visit. Johnson said the suit Jackson wore during the Nuremberg trials will be on display. Also, documents on different Jackson appointments will be part of an exhibit.

The center’s “Civil Rights” exhibit will be updated. Several other items will be on display again including materials from the “Jackson in Jamestown” exhibit and a signed copy of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s speech from the Jackson Center dedication ceremony in 2003. The center’s Ulysses S. Grant room will have more items on display during the visit, as well. When Grant was president he had lunch at the mansion, then owned by Alonzo Kent.

“We’re bringing out a number of artifacts from the archives,” Johnson said.