That initial informal gathering, organized by local realtor Marti Frumhoff, was held at MoKaBe’s Coffee House on Arsenal in the Tower Grove South neighborhood. No one knew quite what to expect at that first meeting but word got around and the place filled up quickly with twenty-three people eager to listen and learn.
Phil Duckwall, an experienced rehabber and investor in multi-family apartment buildings graciously agreed to be the first guest. He was invited because of his extremely high standards and an unabashed love for rehabbing. His participation at that first get together proved extremely important as his perspective helped set the tone and meshed perfectly with what would become the philosophy of the group.
Those around the table that first day had many, many questions even though several attendees were experienced themselves. It was clear that an important need was being filled. Everyone just soaked it up.
From then on, we met about once a month, visiting a different city neighborhood each time. There were always new people at each meeting and we quickly became addicted to all the great information and resources being shared. A bunch of rehab junkies getting their fix!
It soon became apparent however, that we needed a place where we could get together at any time, day or night, ask questions and share knowledge. That’s when we decided to launch the listserv. It’s proved to be a wonderful resource and where a lot of the energy of the group lies today. Discussions take place on a broad range of topics from offering salvaged materials, to finding contractors, to step-by-step how-to information. As long as it relates to rehabbing and living in St. Louis city, it’s fair game for discussion!
FINDING A SPONSOR FOR THE GROUP
Marti, seeing the amount of time and effort the group might need, thought it would be good to align with an existing organization and ask them to sponsor the group. So for a time, the Saint Louis Rehabbers Club was teamed with Metropolis St. Louis, a local civic group whose mission is to attract and retain young people to the city of St. Louis.
The alliance with Metropolis worked well for a time but as the group grew, our needs evolved and changed. In an effort to stay on the forefront of change and growth in the city, Marti then chose to align the group with The Commonspace, described as the “grassroots civics and culture in St. Louis”
As the group continued to change, in 2005, now having grown to over 2,000 members, the Saint Louis Rehabbers Club found its current sponsor and became a project of ReVitalize St. Louis, a diverse coalition of citizens committed to revitalization in the City of St. Louis.
Our founder and leader, local realtor Marti Frumhoff, passed away suddenly in May 2007. This left a huge empty space in our lives but we resolved to move forward, rededicate ourselves to continuing the group as well as finding and working on our own projects. Many of us are trying, in our own way, to be the leaders in our community. That is what she was to many of us and a way in which we believe we can best honor her memory. Thanks, Marti!