Community House Use Philosophy
The Barcroft Community House a historical building of great value to the citizens of this neighborhood. Its usage should primarily consist of neighborhood events, and meetings to address local concerns. It also may be used by non-Barcroft residents for events that are of interest to Barcroft neighbors such as classes, concerts and religious services. These events should add value and culture to the neighborhood. In order to raise enough revenue to continue renovation, pay utilities and maintain the building there will be a need to rent to neighbors and non-Barcroft residents for private parties. Rentals will be honored on a first come first serve basis with priority given to BSCL members. Usage should adhere to rental guidelines established by the Board of Directors.
The guidelines should insure that proper decorum is maintained at all activities held at the Community House. These guidelines should be reviewed annually, or as necessary to address new situations, and revised as needed.
We now have enough chair carts for all of our chairs, so the instructions are very easy:
Place the chairs in the carts upside down, with one chair for each slot.
Some rough dimensions
- The main room: 39 feet long by 23 feet wide.
- The stage: 13 feet wide by ten feet deep (wider and deeper in some spots). Stage ceiling is 8 feet 3 inches high, with three track lighting fixtures hanging down. There are three Barcroft Players flats under a black cover in the back, but we try not to use the stage as storage since it discourages use as a stage.
- The hallway: 3 feet 7 inches wide, 12 feet nine inches long
- The bathroom: 5 feet by 8 feet
- The kitchen: 11 feet by 12 feet, with a 6 foot section leading to the hallway. Stove, refrigerator, sink, cabinets and counters. Tape dispenser with the only tape permitted to be used on our walls. (Scotch Magic Tape). Our old microwave died and we removed the telephone in 2008.
- Basement: two small rooms, both packed with chairs, maintenance stuff and big toys from the playgroup.
- Interior bracing bars in main room: 14 feet and 27 feet back from stage, ten feet eight inches above the floor and 1 inch in diameter. They will hold 160 pounds without bending much. They were used to true the building up when it was blown off center during construction in 1908. We have never adjusted them, and have no idea how important they are to the building's stability, but a structural engineer advised against removing them.
- Furnace filters in the attic are 16x25x1. The furnace/AC is a Carrier, two unit, Model No. CK5AXA048000AAAA. Takes a special two stage thermostat. We have the two units running in tandem because on relay the delay for the second unit to start up was too long.
- Chairs: there are about 85 comfortable but very heavy ones stored in the back of the main hall on carts with rollers.
- Tables: Seven 8-foot plastic tables, one six foot plastic table and one four foot plastic table. Most are stored under the stage in a space with a door under the front of the stage on the right side.
- Stage stairs: three steps, kept on the stage when not in use. Heavy. No handrail.
- Ladders: there is a step latter behind the kitchen door, and a very tall step ladder out back slotted in behind the trash cans. The tall one needs to be cleaned before bringing it into the hall.
- Handicapped access ramp: There are two parking spaces at the bottom of the ramp that are not officially designated as handicapped spaces because they are used to load and unload equipment and supplies before and after events. They should be kept open during events for use by anyone who needs to use the ramp. There are orange H signs in the basement to mark the parking spaces for handicapped use for events.
- Outdoor lights: there are three outdoor lights. All are photocell operated, and all are compact florescents with low wattage bulbs. All of them came from Home Depot or Lowes. The side one is a "13 Watt Wall Light" from Lights of America, model 9000, with a two pin PL replacement bulb marked 9000B. That bulb is a 2700K soft white, a good shade of white for us. The rear light is a "27 Watt Flood Light" from Lights of America, model 9027, replacement bulb 9024B. The bulb is super white at 6500K, but a better replacment would be in the 3000K range to give a less glaring light more in keeping with our historic building.
- Smoke alarms: there are two smoke alarms. The one in the main hall is wired into the mains electric service, but has a standard 9v battery for backup. The battery lasts a long time, but will begin to chirp when it runs low. The alarm is a Firex brand FADC 4618 model. There is a second smoke alarm in the kitchen that the Arlington County Fire Department installed for us. It is operated by a standard 9v battery.
Electrical circuits: one on each side in main room with plugs down the wall, one on each side at the stage end. All are 20 amp service. There is a dedicated 20 amp circuit for the track lights on the stage. Here are the plug locations: in .pdf format.
Maintaining the Barcroft Community House
Our building was constructed in 1908, and it needs a lot of maintenance. We did a major renovation of the main hall in January, 2012, but there is always more to be done. Here is how it runs in 2012.
Barbara Swart is our facilities manager, keeping the calendar of renters, collecting rents, sending out contracts, managing keys and dealing with inquiries. That's a big job.
Michael Nazaretz and Randy Swart hold a maintenance session on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4. They things like paint touchup (constant), emergency light upkeep, replacing light bulbs, installing and maintaining the automatic exterior lights, organizing storage, removing things that people leave, crawlspace chores, changing furnace filters and minor electrical work or plumbing. We call a plumber or electrician for anything really involved. We have painted the interior and the stage with volunteers, but more recently have had it done by professionals. Jim Kerr has braced the floor to withstand our Bulgarian dancers and trapped out small critters. Jim has also done a lot of lock and door maintenance and cabinet maintenance in the kitchen. We miss the Kerr family after their move to Colorado. Michael and Randy check the house almost every day. They pick up mail, make sure the heat and dehumidifier are on, doors are locked and everything is ok. They maintain the stock of paper products and the Approved tape for taping up party things on the woodwork. (Scotch Magic Tape--it comes off.) They also keep cleaning products in stock including Swiffer wipes. We have weekly cleaning service from Mirna Amaya, an industrious and very dependable independent cleaner.
Jennifer Lis handles our insurance policies and as Treasurer of the BSCL she takes care of the 501(C)3 Community House Fund where anyone can make a tax deductible contribution to help with BCH renovations and maintenance. You can send your contribution to her at Barcroft School and Civic League, 800 South Buchanan St, Arlington, VA 22204.
One of our former Board Members, Scott Brinitzer, is a nationally known landscaper, and has taken on the Community House garden as a memorial to his partner who died young some years back. He does a lot on weekends by himself, and periodically brings in his crew to work the place over. Volunteers generally do the leaves in the fall and the mowing. A volunteer recently fixed up our picket fence, and two others--Jill Herndon, Maureen Locke and Barbara Swart--painted it. Jill and Judith Richter help a lot with the gardening, and other volunteers drop in too.
We have a master craftsman in the neighborhood, Bruce Atkinson, who is currently rehabilitating our windows with some sashes reconstructed recently under our last paint contract. Bruce also built the carts for our folding chairs to fit exactly in the space we had available, and was the supervising carpenter for our picket fence. Another neighborhood craftsman, Mark Trone, supervised our oak floor installation, using a crew of unskilled volunteers that he trained and doing the finish work himself. One of our dance group renters said it was the best floor she has ever danced on. We contract for floor finishing. We have Orkin come annually for a termite inspection.
One of our Board Members, Mike Behringer, a professional heating and AC independent who mostly does work for restaurants, takes care of the furnace and air conditioner. We keep our thermostat at 60 in winter. Renters are free to turn it up, but it is set to revert to 60 every two hours. (80 in summer)
Exterior maintenance is mostly volunteer between major paint jobs. That includes some paint touchup that Michael Nazaretz and Randy Swart do in the worst areas. Major paint jobs have been contracted by David Michaelson, a contractor who lives in the neighborhood and gets us very good deals because he hammers the sub-contractors and knows what the going rate is for everything. David has also served as our volunteer contractor for some of the major renovations of the interior. He gets amazing amounts of work done for us at very low prices. For our 2012 renovation of the main hall, Jim Kerr led the charge, and we contracted with Commonwealth Restorations to do the work, originally recommended by David. They did an outstanding job, met their deadline and we were very pleased with their work.
Snow clearance is volunteer, with Mark and Jake Wigfield in charge.
We occasionally get things done for us by the Barcroft Players, our theater troupe, who painted the stage and built a storage cubby. One repeat renter, Sue Tenenbaum, painted parts of the interior to soften the unrelieved white of the walls, pointing the way to doing that in the 2012 renovation. Another donated a light dimmer and the installation of it, again inspiring multiple dimmers in the renovation.
It takes a neighborhood to maintain and run a Community House.