Friday, June 28, 2013
Today marks the end of an era in Old North - it was the last full day on the job for Jane Smith, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s Office Manager. After 13 years at our front desk and at the helm of ONSLRG’s phone system, Jane has retired. But she won’t be leaving us completely. Jane graciously has agreed to come in for a limited number of hours to help with some of our bookkeeping and financial management tasks.
Jane staffing one of the tables at the very first day of the first North City Farmers' Market on June 2, 2007, when that stretch of N. 14th Street was still a pedestrian mall lined with vacant, boarded-up buildings.
Over the years Jane’s duties have evolved and expanded, but she has always tackled work that goes well beyond her official job description. As the first person visitors would see when they came through the front doors of our office, as the first voice they would hear when callers contacted us by phone, or as the fielder of all emails sent to email@example.com, Jane dealt with an extremely broad range of issues and responded to an eclectic array of characters and personalities. And, through it all, Jane’s low-key and even-keeled style helped set the tone for the organization.
Jane behind the front desk at the old office.
Coming to us after many years of work with the State of MIssouri, first as a caseworker with the Department of Social Services, then as a supervisor in the Department of Child Support Enforcement, Jane was prepared for just about anything that came through our front doors, whether the situation called for kindness and sensitivity or a firm, no-nonsense poker-face. As a resident of the neighborhood for 30+ years, Jane also was ideally suited to greet visitors to the office, whether they were out-of-town tourists or former residents returning to see how the old neighborhood had changed or neighbors needing help with a personal crisis.
After ONSLRG moved down the street from 2800 N. 14th Street to 2700 N. 14th Street, where her new desk offered a view of the beautifully restored historic buildings up and down N. 14th Street, Jane was able to spend the whole work day looking out at the product of ONSLRG’s efforts and then go home to another product of ONSLRG’s work.
Jane and her husband, Bruce, in front of their new home at North Market Place in 2006.
As a home-buyer of one of the new houses developed through ONSLRG’s partnership with Regional Housing & Community Development Alliance, Jane was able to make a statement about her commitment to the community and her faith in its future. In a 2004 Post-Dispatch story about the North Market Place development, Jane explained why she and her husband, Bruce, were ready to trade in their old home for a new one in Old North:
“We love it here,” Smith said. “There’s an astonishing collection of diverse people here. . . . But I’m not 30 years old anymore, and we’re not especially handy.”
And, she further explained that even with Old North’s rich history, she had great confidence in what was still to come:
“The story of this neighborhood is still being written,” she said. “I want to stay around for the next chapter.”
On behalf of the staff, Board, and friends of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, we thank you, Jane, for being such an important part of many chapters of the Old North St. Louis story.
Jane with State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed earlier this month.
Jane working the information booth at the 2008 Old North House & Community Tour.
Jane with Johnnie Owens at the re-dedication of the Hebert Garden as the Johnnie Owens Garden
If you would like to share your appreciation - or offer any of your stories about Jane’s time with us, please click on “LEAVE A COMMENT” on the left side at the top of this post.
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- 14th Street Mall, Crown Square, History, Infill housing, Life in ONSL, North City Farmers' Market, North Market Place, ONSL amenities, ONSL in the news, ONSL people, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, Uncategorized
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