Having already raised $928,000 of its $1 million commitment to the city of Bexley's planned expansion of Jeffrey Mansion, the Bexley Community Foundation has committed to raise another $500,000 over the next three years for the project.
Foundation representatives and Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler announced the new goal at the foundation's annual gathering Sept. 27 at the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens' Wells Barn.
The money raised to date includes a $452,000 donation by the Jeffrey family, said Hallie Raskin, the foundation's executive director.
"Last year, we announced the $1 million goal and now we're 90 percent of the way," Raskin said. "We want to give everyone in the community an opportunity to support the goal."
During the gathering, the foundation presented its Cornerstone Award for Philanthropy and Service to the Jeffrey family.
According to the foundation, the family has a long history of philanthropy, beginning in the late 19th century with the Columbus-based Jeffrey Manufacturing Co., founded by Joseph A. and Celia Jeffrey. Their son, Robert Hutchins "R.H." Jeffrey (1873-1961) helped to found the village of Bexley in 1908. In 1941, R.H. donated his estate, including the 34-acre grounds and large manor house, to the city for use as a community center and recreation complex. It is now known as Jeffrey Mansion, located at 165. N. Parkview.
Another son, Malcolm Douglas Jeffrey (1884-1930) built a residence at 358 N. Parkview Ave., which he subsequently donated to the state of Ohio. It now serves as the Governor's Residence and Heritage Garden.
The progress of the foundation's fundraising campaign for the Jeffrey Mansion expansion can partially be attributed to the fact that donors see the facility, which hosts a variety of recreation programming and community events year-round, as an asset to Bexley, said Jeff Walker, the foundation's board chairman.
"This community sees Jeffrey Mansion as the heart of the city," he said. "It's the symbolic center of the city; it's the recreation center of the city; it's the parks center of the city. So much activity goes on there. You combine a community that values that along with the generosity of this community, you get those kind of results."
The city estimates the Jeffrey Mansion expansion will cost $3.25 million. Bexley City Council on Sept. 25 approved an updated master plan for the facility that includes the creation of a multipurpose space for recreation programming and community use and reconfiguring parking to create 20 more spaces.
Based on public feedback from two public workshops held throughout the planning process this spring and summer, the expansion now will include the installation of an elevator, Kessler said.
The foundation's fundraising commitment has enabled the Jeffrey Mansion expansion to include that elevator installation component, which was initially planned to take place in a later phase of the project, Kessler said.
"That would never be possible without the community foundation's gift," he said. "Their generosity, their support, their vision has really been foundational to the process, and it's truly exciting."
For more information about the fundraising campaign, visit bexleycommunityfoundation.org.