Throughout the first half of the 20th, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School was the focal point of a thriving urban neighborhood on the west side of the City of St. Louis; a hub of activity for young and young alike. Over the years, the school and the surrounding neighborhood have suffered severe decay and decline.
The decision was made to transform this architectural jewel into BFL’s new home. Better Family Life purchased and restored the historic 60,000 square foot Emerson Elementary School building, listed on the Missouri State and National Registry of Historic Landmarks. The initiative not only brings back to life on of our city’s most historically significant landmarks, but will serve as a catalyst for economic growth and neighborhood revitalization. Designed by famed architect William B. Ittner, the new facility has become a true “community center” enhancing the quality of life of the residents in the neighboring communities
The Better Family Life Cultural, Educational and Business Center serves as a central, welcoming resource and hub of activity where area residents and the region at large now have access to all of our programs, and join together as a community to enjoy artistic, cultural, educational, business and community activities – all under one roof.
The Center has four level, and 60, 000 sq. ft. of usable space for special events, exhibitions and business training, and ongoing activities that meet the community’s needs. It is an anchor that contributes to the expansion of the Page corridor and building the region as a centralized destination. The consolidation of over six BFL locations provides a focal point enabling us to offer a more strategic and integrated approach to creating Better Family Lives for the communities we serve.
Acquisition, renovation, and built-out costs for the Center totalled $17 million. To date, through the dedication and generosity of key community partners, $13 million of this total has been achieved toward the facility’s stunning transformation. Our goal is to raise the additional $4 million needed to complete key project components.