Golden Gate building gets new use, becomes registered on historic list

The Golden Gate building has not only become a part of the National Registry of Historic Places, it also has a new lease and a new purpose.

In August, House of Hope started a 15-year lease with Martin County to manage the building, running services that help people living in the area with career training, health services and educational opportunities.

“Having these programs at the Golden Gate Center takes away the barriers of access for people,” said House of Hope Chief Executive Officer Rob Ranieri. “With very limited public transportation (in the area), there is a huge benefit to bringing programs into communities that need them.”

The building, which is in the suburban Stuart community of Golden Gate, has gone through a number of changes since a business known as the Golden Gate Company built it on Dixie Highway in 1925.

For 10 years after that time, it served as the Port Sewell Post Office, and later artist James F. Hutchinson and his family occupied the building for two years, from 1956-58.

Decades later, in 1989, it was officially condemned, but it wasn’t until 2002 that Martin County bought the property, giving it new life as the county started remodeling efforts in 2005.

It wasn’t until recently that the building joined 13 others to become a part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Now, House of Hope and its partner agencies are expanding the programs offered. The Golden Gate Center for Enrichment provides nearby residents access to technology with four desktop computers and 10 laptops and printers. There also is career coaching and interview and job readiness classes.

A library outpost gives residents the opportunity to check out books and order materials from the library. In addition, there are programs for family planning, immunizations, health screenings and a cooking and nutrition workshop.

Those programs, among many others, are now giving the location, the community and a local nonprofit renewed purpose, said House of Hope volunteer manager Lauren Mustelier.

She already has witnessed some of the success stories since she has been working there helping programs get started, she said. A recent celebration includes a woman who came in to work on her resume. She showed her how to use the employment-related search engine Indeed.

A couple of weeks later, Mustelier saw the woman again at House of Hope’s food pantry. She had had success.

“She got a job,” she said.

Mustelier said the services offered at the site will increase dramatically in the new year.

A GED class will start in January, and the building’s edible landscape and gardens are growing. The six new raised garden beds will help put fresh food in the pantries and benefit the nutrition education program. As part of that program, different youth organizations will learn to grow plants and garden.

Ranieri also said they will add computer classes and citizenship classes as well as a Gavel Club, a Toastmaster’s program. In February, the Junior League will even offer Golden Bridges to Success, a mentoring program for teenage girls.

The variety of programs is offered through several partnerships with organizations including Indian River State College, Habitat for Humanity of Martin County, United Way of Martin County, House of Hope, Project LIFT and others.

“I feel the community is so excited to see a building that they’ve seen for decades in use,” she said.

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