Hayti offers classes and rental opportunities

Mercy Dee instructs students in form. (Staff photo by Daija Graves/NCCU)

The Hayti Heritage Center is a Durham landmark – one of few remaining buildings from Durham’s Hayti District. As a cultural arts education center, it has been offering events and activities since 1975.

What many people may not know is that they also rent their facilities to host community initiated classes, weddings, dances, and anything one might need an event space for.

The large, former church at the corner of East Lakewood Avenue and Fayetteville Street was established as St. Joseph’s Church in 1891 on the site where Edian Markham, an African American Methodist Episcopal Missionary and former slave came to Durham to establish a church in 1868.

Mercy Dee’s Martial Arts Dojo class is offered every Wednesday from 3:30-5 p.m. (Staff photo by Daija Graves/NCCU)

St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, Inc. serves as conservator of the Hayti Heritage Center, but the center generates a large portion of its annual revenue through facility rentals.

In addition to the historic performance hall, they rent the upper and main galleries, the community room, two classrooms, a dance studio, and office space. Although prices vary, the spaces are available at market prices for non-profit and commercial use.

“People usually call,” said Polly Whitted, administrative assistant. “There are forms to fill out, and depending on what room you want to rent you fill out the form in regards to that.”

Whitted has worked for Hayti Heritage for over 15 years and she oversees the process of renting facilities.

Whitted said Hayti does not conduct background checks or screenings for individuals interested in renting facilities, because most of the time they are known in the community or they speak on their personal experience during the process.

Among the classes provided by individuals renting space at Hayti are Mercy Dee’s Martial Arts Dojo, Sa-To’s Dance Academy, drum classes, and Jazz I and II.

The only class organized through the Hayti Heritage Center is the Heritage Rhythm African American Dance class, which meets on Monday evenings from 6:30-8 p.m. and regularly has more than 50 people in attendance. The class costs $5 per session.

“If they rent out the church and that’s the Performance Hall it is 200 hundred dollars an hour,” said Whitted. “We do require deposit fee for any place of rental to secure the spot for the renters.”

Whitted said Hayti gives non-profit organizations a break in price when renting facilities. The monthly fee for office rentals includes utilities, housekeeping, parking and wireless access.

Completed rental agreements and security deposits are required in order to reserve a space.

Mercy Dee’s Martial Arts Dojo class is offered every Wednesday from 3:30-5 p.m. Dee has been teaching martial arts for 30 years. His class is geared for kids between the ages of 7-17 and it is priced at $25 dollars. Dee is a renter at Hayti.

For all inquiries regarding renting facilities for classes or events at Hayti Heritage Center visit this link and contact Polly Whitted for availability.