The building at 69 South Water Street was constructed as the City's library in 1902 through Carnegie Foundation funding and is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1968, the Janesville Public Library outgrew its home here and moved down the street. Parts of the building served as home to the Janesville Little Theater and Leisure Services for a time, but it has been home to Janesville's Senior Center since 1968 and exclusively since 1981.
Eventually it became clear that the facility needed modernization and expansion to better serve the needs of the community. The Janesville City Council had to decide whether to build a new Senior Citizens Center or renovate the current building, which would leave the building's fate uncertain. This building is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places - it is a significant example of large-scale formal Neoclassical design and it's the only remaining public Neoclassical building in Janesville.
In January of 2000, Tom Jeffris and the Jeffris Family Foundation offered an extraordinarily generous donation of $210,000 to expand the existing Senior Center and restore its exterior. Their assistance in this project provided the opportunity to renovate this architecturally significant building and enhance it for the benefit of area senior citizens. The project included renovation of the first two floors of the existing building, construction of a two-story 6,000 sq. ft. addition, and parking improvement. The project also demonstrates a commitment to Janesville's senior community from the community at large and the Janesville City Council.
The Jeffris Family Foundation gives challenge grants exclusively to historic preservation projects, which have included the nationally recognized restoration of the Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien and the Fairlawn in Superior. This is a first class organization that only funds first class projects. The Foundation's assistance ensured that the building addition could be done in a sensitive manner to preserve the building's architecture, while continuing to provide senior citizens with a quality facility.
Community-led fundraising efforts to buy furnishings for the Center, which included a community spaghetti dinner, met and exceeded their $100,000 goal. Please view the donor plaques installed at the Senior Center - although those who also donated their time and talents to the fundraising efforts were too numerous to name.