The owners of the event business that operates out of the Brooklyn Arts Center + The Annex in downtown Wilmington bought the center's real estate in a deal that closed last week.
Jay Tatum and his wife, Tara Tatum, paid nearly $2 million for the historic property that developer Dave Nathans revived in 2011. The transaction includes the church, The Annex and the adjacent manse.
The Tatums in 2018 purchased the event business that runs out of the center at 516 N. Fourth St. The previous owner of the business and real estate was Nathans.
"Although we bought the business first, the business isn't anything without the building," Jay Tatum said.
He also said, "We're thankful for Dave Nathans [and the center's executive director, Rich Leder] and their vision, and we're trying to carry that on."
That vision includes being a cornerstone of the revitalization of the city's Brooklyn Arts District and North Fourth Street corridor.
Jay Tatum's relationship with the Brooklyn Arts Center began long before the Tatums' purchases. The owner of a DJ company for about 20 years, Jay Tatum estimates that he's DJed for 400 of the more than 600 weddings held at the Brooklyn Arts Center.
"I love the building itself and I love the history behind it," he said. "I DJed so many events here that it felt like home to me."
Jay Tatum said when he found out Nathans was interested in selling the business and the property, he and his wife, a CPA and practice manager for Wilmington Plastic Surgery, began to figure out how they could become the owners, eventually working with North State Bank.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the business, but Jay Tatum said the Tatums have been able to reschedule 50 weddings, and larger events that were canceled are planning to use the center in 2021.
They took the time starting in March during the state's stay-at-home order period to work on the whole center, including painting every wall, redoing its bars, installing new lighting and art from local artists, and many more refurbishing tasks.
Recently, adhering to state guidelines, the center has been used for what Jay Tatum called "micro-weddings." State limits on mass gatherings don't apply to wedding ceremonies but they do apply to receptions, according to one of the state's coronavirus information pages
Jay Tatum said, "They’re still able to utilize the venue within the governor’s guidelines."
The Brooklyn Arts Center has a long, somewhat complicated history that's detailed
on its website.
The church portion dates back to 1888, and since then the church, St. Andrews Presbyterian "has been a spiritual, cultural, and community center for the Brooklyn neighborhood and beyond. Its 130-year story is filled with outstanding personalities and memorable moments that remain to this day a vital part of Wilmington’s remarkable history," according to the website.