Revive NCC!

Built in 1890, the building located at 2035 Coursol Street in Montreal, Quebec, Canada was originally a church, and also housed the activities of a liberal social movement, the Iverley Settlement House, which welcomed immigrants and low-income families. Moving from various rooms and rented halls in the St. Antoine Street district, in 1930 the NCC took over space in the basement of Union United Church, on Delisle Street. 

During the early years, there was close identification with national events sponsored by Blacks in the United States and the Center’s programming. Most of the NCC’s activities were geared toward children and youth but due to lack of space the centre was forced to hold many of its activities at Royal Arthur School. In 1949, the Board incorporated the NCC in order to enable them to acquire adequate property under its control.

In July 1955, with a serious need for space, the NCC moved into the Iverley Community Centre at 2035 Coursol and merged its 90% Black membership with the 100% White membership of the Iverley. At the same time, the centre encouraged the participation from Blacks living outside the neighborhood. Then, in just one year, participation soared to 65,000 visits.

Between 1955 – 1957 about $50,000 was donated to improve the building and a gym was built on the fourth floor. While still maintaining its strong youth program, the NCC in 1958 received government funding for citizenship education, adult programming and local public affairs issues. The NCC had evolved into a full service community centre, serving a multi-ethnic clientele of all ages.

In 1987, a portion of the exterior back wall collapsed and fundraising began almost immediately to rebuild the crumbling wall; the reconstruction did not finish until over a year later. This situation created a crisis that lead to the eventual closure of 2035 Coursol as many programs could not operate within the building and were moved out or were stopped altogether. The lack of programs and reduced activity within the building precipitated an operating crisis.

In October 1998, again a new board was created for the NCC/Charles H. Este Cultural Centre. They made a presentation to the City of Montreal Mayor’s office, which endorsed the project. The essence of this revitalization project was presented to other Black community organization leaders in July of 1999, who gave their support of the vision.

On April 13, 2014 one of the walls of the Negro Community Centre collapsed, ripping open a gaping hole that exposed every floor of the three-storey building. The NCC declared bankruptcy in June, and a numbered company (9289-5929 Québec Inc.), run by developer Paul Sen Chher bought the building for $300,000 from the bankruptcy trustee. The land alone was listed in the city registry as being worth $324,000, and the building $168,800. 

In 1987, part of a wall collapsed and repairs were made with no regard to restoring the original architecture. The centre closed in 1989 and the building has been abandoned since then, without heat or maintenance. When another wall collapsed last April, the city ordered a security barrier to be erected, but repairs have not been done. 

A ten-year-old, $6.5-million plan to restore the building as a community centre, and add a library documentation centre on the history of Montreal’s black communities, never got off the ground due to lack of funds. The city contributed $500,000 to a renewal project in 2007, but other levels of government did not follow suit, Dorais said.

The site is zoned for use as a community centre or sports centre. Craig Sauvé, a city councillor, said the borough will not change the zoning, unless the developer comes up with a project that the community supports. In 2014, the Little Burgundy Coalition asked the Sud-Ouest borough to set aside the lot at 2035 Coursol as a land reserve for community use. This leads us to 2020 where a new executive was formed to realize the dream of creating a curated space to share the history of Afro-Canadians in Montreal.  We are hoping to have this money within the next year in order to break ground for this much needed space. 

We would appreciate any help that you would provide us as we embark on what is going to be an uphill battle. Thank you!

Donations (11)

  • David Shelton
    • $1,500 
    • 2 yrs
  • Patrick Scott
    • $87 
    • 2 yrs
  • Robert Potvin
    • $50 
    • 2 yrs
  • Julia Clarke
    • $50 
    • 2 yrs
  • Ariane Beaulieu-Gendron
    • $10 
    • 2 yrs

Fundraising team (2)

Charyssa Walton
Raised $87 from 1 donation
Châteauguay, QC
Victor Paris
Team member
This team raised $1,790 from 10 other donations.

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