Various plans were discussed and in 1973 a committee was formed to plan and supervise the building project. By 1974 the plan was approved to include a large meeting space, gymnasium & locker rooms, kitchen, meeting rooms, library, and office space. The building space was to be shared by Old Pine Street Church and St. Peters School and the basement was allocated to the adjacent Presbyterian Historical Society for its archives. The center is built entirely from private funds raised through these three organizations, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Friends of Old Pine.
The Center opened in the fall of 1977. Early programs included the Three Steps Nursery Pre-School Co-op, Saturday for Seniors, wheelchair basketball and yoga. Afterschool care was soon added and in the 1980’s Summer City Camp. An annual Craft Fair was the main fundraiser. The Philadelphia Committee for the Homeless was formed in 1982 and initially worked out of the Center. Twelve step meetings provided support to those battling addiction.
Today, the Center offers programs for children & adults including an After School Program and a program of Adult Learning and Literacy. Learners are matched with tutors and they work one-on-one to gain skills and knowledge according to their personal goals, perhaps to pass the GED exam; perhaps to become more proficient in reading or math. During the week the Center provides its gym for use by St. Peter’s School.
Several community organizations use the Center as their regular meeting place, including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, 12-step groups, the South Street Headhouse District and the Society Hill Civic Association. The weekly “Saturday for Seniors” program offers a home-cooked meal and a take home supper to senior citizens, along with the opportunity for fellowship. By serving as a meeting place for such groups, the Community Center is a hub of neighborhood life. On election days, the Community Center serves as a polling place for the neighborhood. In the evenings and on Saturdays, the Center hosts a variety of sports leagues.
The Center also offers a variety of rental opportunities. The Center’s gymnasium, which can accommodate up to 250 persons, and Wasson Hall, which can accommodate 100, may be rented for private parties, dinners, wedding receptions, or meetings. A full institutional kitchen is available. The Center also can provide space for smaller groups to meet. The first floor of the Center including the gymnasium and Wasson Hall is handicap accessible and public parking lots are within a two-block walk.