The Lussier Community Education Center has always been a place for people from different walks of life to come together, share gifts, and build community. But how did it evolve into a thriving hub of community life at 55 South Gammon Road in Madison, Wisconsin? Here’s how.
Wexford Ridge residents organized what would come to be called the Wexford Ridge Community Association.
Late 1970s and early 1980s
Fed up with being ignored by their landlord, Wexford Ridge residents organized to reach the Mayor’s office, secure concessions from their landlord, and create Wexford Ridge Neighborhood Center (WRNC) in a vacant townhouse. Volunteers provided children’s activities, food assistance, and employment assistance for adults. Nearby community agencies provided services. WRNC built what have become deep, long-standing partnerships with area churches and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD).
WRNC became a member of United Neighborhood Centers, hired a part-time director, and operated out of two converted apartments in the Wexford Ridge complex. When United Neighborhood Centers dissolved in 1998, WRNC became an independent nonprofit.
Residents and supporters from surrounding neighborhoods, nearby churches, local service clubs, and friends from the schools came together to discuss building a “real” community center on the West side and to negotiate with MMSD staff, city staff, and elected officials. Governor Doyle signed enabling legislation that paved the way for a 45-year partnership agreement and lease between WRNC and MMSD to build the Lussier Community Education Center. The Mayor of Madison, for the first time in city history, pledged city capital funds to a private community facility. In October 2007 the Lussier Community Education Center opened its doors at 55 South Gammon Road, on school-owned land adjacent to Jefferson Middle School and Memorial High School. On October 17, 2008, the community held a grand opening to celebrate this significant accomplishment.