Kingswood Community Center’s (KCC) history is a story of family and community. For the better part of a century, our families have hosted birthday parties, played baseball, and celebrated life’s joys at Kingswood, and as a result, it has become a cornerstone for our community.
Since 1946 when the Kingswood United Methodist Church opened its doors to local youth and laid the foundation for today’s Kingswood Community Center, we have been committed to serving the Riverside neighborhood. Today’s Kingswood Community Center serves as an educational sanctuary for our children as well as a place to build lasting community at the Jimmy Jenkins Senior Center. We are so proud of our Riverside family and all the many challenges you’ve overcome as well as the joys we have shared at your side.
The all-white congregation of the Kingswood Methodist United Church determines that recreational programs are needed for the youth of the 11th Street and Claymont Street community. The original sanctuary on the second-floor level of the church is converted into a gymnasium for community recreational activities.
The Kingswood Church coordinates with a group called “Recreation Promotion and Service, Inc.” headed by W.W. Laird, a decedent of the DuPont family, and Paul Salvatore, a community member. Francis Zavier Norton is hired as executive director and Ernest Webster, a black community resident, and well-known athlete in the area, is hired as the Recreation Director for Youth. Kingswood recreational activities include girls’ and boys’ softball teams, basketball teams, boxing classes, track events, Boy Scouts, Junior Achievement, and a maintenance program for the playing fields.
Kingswood Church purchased its current property at 23rd and Bowers Street to build a new facility. They again took a forgotten piece of land that had formerly been a dump and erected the current Kingswood Community Center. The new and old facility operated simultaneously until June 1969.
Once a vibrant working-class community, Riverside was subject to “white flight” in the late 1950’s and 60’s. The utter lack of economic development, financial, and social serving resources within the community resulted in high rates of unemployment, poor educational outcomes, and crime.
The Jimmy Jenkins Senior Center was dedicated in memory of James (Jimmy) W. Jenkins. Jimmy , a well-loved and active member of the 11th Street Bridge community. His devotion to sports and his natural athletic abilities led him to coach many of the KCC’s ball teams as well as volunteer in countless programs.
After the housing crisis and recession in 2008, Riverside slips further into poverty while Wilmington becomes known as, “Murdertown, USA”, according to the 2014 Newsweek
During the early 2010’s, KCC experiences an economic downtown. Due to poor management decisions, KCC is almost forced to close its doors forever. Community members stepped in and reconstituted the Board of Directors, who chose Logan S. Herring, Sr. to serve as interim Executive Director and restructure the organization.
Logan Herring along with his board of directors work tirelessly to turn KCC around and become fully operational. Logan transitions from “interim” status and became KCC’s permanent Executive Director.
The WRK Group is created by uniting The Warehouse, REACH Riverside, and Kingswood Community Center under a collective mission to empower the community to reach its full potential by eliminating the barriers of structural racism and revolutionizing teen engagement.
The WRK Group celebrates KCC’s 75 years in the commUNITY!
The WRK Group, along with its partners Pennrose and the Wilmington Housing Authority, open Imani Village, a mixed-income community that replaces current subsidized housing in Riverside.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, the 11th Street Bridge and Riverside community experienced a shift in population due to segregation laws, which forced Black Wilmingtonians into lower income neighborhoods. This included neighborhoods such as the lower East Side, South Wilmington, the area just west of downtown, a suburban development for Black residents called Dunleith, and the 11th Street Bridge area. The houses in these areas were small and quickly became overcrowded with extended families and new arrivals.
The WRK Group (The Warehouse, REACH Riverside, and Kingswood Community Center) is committed to building and contributing to the next phase of Riverside’s success. To accomplish this, we are currently raising just over $40 million to create a new, state-of-the-art Kingswood Community Center facility. We are happy to report that, to date, The WRK Group has raised over $24 million towards this goal. We know that we still have a way to go but are emboldened by the positive responses we have received from our community, partners, and local government.
The new Kingswood Community Center will feature: