Mycenae House: from nunnery to New York deli

Mycenae HouseA more stable future beckons for Mycenae House Community Centre. After years of negotiation, the Vanbrugh Community Association (which runs the community centre) is now agreeing terms with Greenwich Council for a long lease on the building, which they currently occupy on a “tenancy at will”.

A long lease will give the VCA more security, and also will make it easier for them to raise funds for improvements to the building – for example, a much-needed lift to the upper floors.

It was pleasing to see improvements to the building started while the lease negotiations rumbled on:  the installation of a ramp to the front door for wheelchair users, a rewire, and roof repairs funded by the council a few years ago.

Now, the cafe-bar has just been spruced up by the VCA, to look less like a student bar and “more like a New York-style delicatessen,” according to the community centre’s imaginative manager, Mark Johnson Brown. New seating, lighting and tiling has been put in and the bar has been turned by ninety degrees to look very trendy indeed.

I was honoured to be invited last week to formally open the redecorated cafe/bar. Many house users were at the event, along with its manager Mark, the chair of the VCA Sheila Peck, the Steiner School next door, nearby residents, and local Labour candidates Paul Morrissey and Cherry Parker. Cherry has written about Mycenae House on her own blog, here.

Alex Grant Ribbon CuttingI visit Mycenae House – in whose grounds I learnt to ride a bike as a child 30 years ago – several times each month as I hold a monthly surgery there, and Blackheath Westcombe branch Labour Party has its meetings there. It is often a venue for community meetings of all kinds. Many much more exciting things take place there, include jazz nights, film nights, a Montessori school, several yoga classes, playgroups, meetings of the Blackheath Scientific Society , wine-tasting and even the Greenwich Morris Men.

CafeBar Opening PeopleMycenae House, believe it or not, started off as a purpose-built nunnery extension, built in the 1930s for a Catholic religious order, the Little Sisters of the Assumption, who had outgrown Woodlands (now home to the Greenwich Steiner School) next door.

What the Little Sisters would make of it all is a good question, but Mycenae House is now friendlier, looking better, and has a more secure future than ever before.  There were fears some years ago, when Woodlands was leased to the Steiner School and a  small housing development (Garden House) was built to the west of Mycenae House, that the community centre may not have a long-term future. I am pleased these have proved to be groundless.

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One Response to Mycenae House: from nunnery to New York deli

  1. Pingback: After 16 years as a Labour councillor in Blackheath and Westcombe Park, Alex Grant says thank you and goodbye | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

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