The vibrancy of downtown Mount Vernon’s Central Business District has been enhanced through a long-term historic renovation effort. The Woodward Opera House, located at the intersection of South Main and West Vine Streets is now considered the oldest authentic 19th century American theater in the country, thanks to the efforts of the Woodward Development Corporation. Regular entertainment is presented by the Woodward Opera House Conservancy in the opera house, the recital hall and in the black box theater. The Ariel Foundation has partnered with both community organizations on multiple grants in support of the restoration effort and the launch of entertaining arts-based experiences that provide high quality interactions that impact the local economy.
Over the years, grants for equipment and maintenance support have been made available to a unique community asset, the Kokosing Gap Trail. This 14-mile recreational trail is a part of the former Pennsylvania Railroad line, running between Mount Vernon and Danville, Ohio.
The Ariel Foundation has partnered with the Knox County Commissioners on the renovation of the former Central School Building, originally built in 1939, and in need of significant repair. This special renovation will provide a new, more visible and accessible location for Knox County Veteran Services as a part of the development of Knox County’s campus of services.
Mount Vernon community members have long supported its YMCA. In 2019, The Ariel Foundation provided matching funds to the YMCA of Mount Vernon for a $3.5 million renovation effort, bringing new life to the 54-year-old community resource and addressing many of the top desires of its members.
Anticipation of continually increasing tourism brought about discussion of the importance of unified, easily recognizable signage to guide visitors to Mount Vernon and Knox County landmarks. New ‘Welcome to Mount Vernon’ and other attractive wayfinding signage was developed and implemented in partnership with the Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City of Mount Vernon and Knox County governmental entities.
Bringing together all ages to explore science, technology and human interaction through play, SPI has been a regular recipient of support from The Ariel Foundation. SPI offers opportunities to playfully explore a rich environment that includes the tools of science in a family-friendly space that fosters community and intergenerational interaction.
The challenges of poor physical health, mental health issues, addiction, and lack of resources are a reality for all communities. The Winter Sanctuary, located in Mount Vernon, provides support and advocacy to those experiencing homelessness. The Ariel Foundation continues to support this important community program as it provides a safe, warm place where guests can stay while working to rebuild their lives by addressing the underlying issues to their homelessness.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University is home to a new premier Soccer and Lacrosse Complex that will be utilized by youth, high school, and collegiate athletes. The project is a true community collaboration that embodies the power of partnership and enables Mount Vernon High School teams to use the lighted turf field for practice and competitions. In addition, the complex includes five full-size grass fields that can be reconfigured into multiple U10, U12, and U14 competition spaces. The Community Fields will provide an attractive, high-quality, permanent home for Knox County youth soccer programs, including The YMCA and Mount Vernon Youth Soccer Association (Mount Vernon Sting). The Soccer and Lacrosse Complex is a source of pride for MVNU, the City of Mount Vernon and Knox County. Planning continues for phase two of the project which includes expanded seating, restrooms, locker rooms, and concessions for the stadium and the surrounding community fields.