Before I get to your very first question, a smart-aleck reply, and the real answer, allow me a moment to thank you good readers for such a warm welcome to Asheville Watchdog and avlwatchdog.org.

It’s a big change for yours truly, but I’m feeling right at home over here. So, keep those questions coming!

Question: What is going on with Jubilee! Community Church downtown? I’ve heard the building is for sale. Are they closing?

My answer: If someone does not turn this space on Wall Street into a brewpub called “JuBEERlee!” I’ll eat my hat … if the hat is made of doughnuts.

Real answer: “The 46 Wall Street location of Jubilee! is indeed for sale, and it was not an easy decision, according to Bruce Mulkey, administrator for the Jubilee! Community.

The interfaith church has seen declining attendance — and donations — since the 2019 retirement of the Rev. Howard Hanger, the much-beloved founder of the church and for 30 years its minister, and because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mulkey said.

“Thus, sustaining our location in downtown Asheville has become more challenging,” Mulkey wrote via email.

Bruce Mulkey // photo from brucemulkey.com

In a document about the decision to sell, Jubilee! noted that Laura Collins, who served as temporary Minister of Transition for a year and half, recently returned as minister of celebration, and is proving very popular with community members.

“But, with a smaller community, not enough money is coming in to pay our mortgage, insurance, maintenance, staff salaries, utilities, and other expenses, and we have been going in the red every month,” the church stated. “Recognizing that the essence of Jubilee! is our community, not our building, we took a hard look at the economics of trying to retain 46 Wall Street and could not come up with a sustainable model.”

In short, it made sense to put the 10,750-square-foot building, which has entrances at 46 Wall Street and 101 Patton Avenue, on the market. Before Jubilee! leased the building in 1989 and then bought it in 2000, it was a nightclub.

As you can imagine, this is a prime downtown location.

Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks Realtors in Asheville is marketing the building, listed in its entirety as 101 Patton Ave. The price tag is $5.2 million.

Jubilee! paid $550,000 for the building in 2000, but it needed a major renovation, so the church didn’t move in until 2006. The church grew to about 500 active members, but it’s about a quarter of that now.

After a 33-year run in downtown Asheville, the Jubilee! Community Church building is for sale. // Watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

The building has two levels.

“Alternately, the lower level is available as a commercial condominium with a listing price of $2.7 million,” the church stated. “Selling the lower level would allow us to retain the upper level for our Sunday celebrations while still providing a much-needed infusion of cash.”

If the entire building gets sold, community members “have expressed a longing to be housed somewhere with green space where events can be held inside and outside,” the church said. “We have been in conversation with local churches and private schools and have found several possibilities for our future incarnation.”

A former nightclub, the Jubilee! Community Church building is blessed with a prime central location.

So, Jubilee! will live on. And that’s a good thing for the community, as the church has donated “more than $2 million to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Haywood Street Community, Homeward Bound, Manna Food Bank and others,” the church document states. “Continuing this outreach support is an important part of our future plans.”

Jubilee! has made arrangements with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina “for the proceeds of the building sale to reside there, a portion in a permanent endowment that will provide funding for local nonprofits with values that align with ours, and a portion available to Jubilee! Community for whatever comes next,” the church states.

Mulkey says the impending sale was a difficult decision for the church, and for him personally.

“When the subject was first broached, I was one of those vehemently opposed to selling the building,” Mulkey said. “Our daughter Gracelyn was baptized at 46 Wall Street. Howard (Hanger) and the Jubilee! community blessed (us) as I departed for Ohio to work for Obama in ’08. Before my wife Shonnie underwent breast cancer surgery, blessings and prayers were offered for her well-being. All of our cats have been present at the annual blessing of the animals. Many evocative memories to say the least.”

Mulkey was on the church’s board of directors but left that role a year ago to become church administrator. He had a clear vision at the time to turn the building into a community center “for spiritual, artistic, social justice, and environmental activities seven days a week.”

The church made progress toward that with various events, and in establishing the Jubilee Alternative Micro-Shelter for homeless women. It has also hosted Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, Native American storytelling, and concerts by local musicians.

“Nonetheless, about mid-year it became apparent that our financial situation was unsustainable,” Mulkey said.

Mulkey acknowledges that the unraveling has been distressing, but he adds, “a lot of us see this as a natural and potentially good thing.”

“Nature teaches us that life is seasonal and generational,” Mulkey said. “This founding era of Jubilee’s life has been great — healing and grounding for lots of us. And it has run its course. Something new is getting ready to be born.”


Got a question? Reach out to Asheville Watchdog’s Answer Man John Boyle at (828) 337-0941 or email him at jboyle@avlwatchdog.org

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23 Comments

  1. SO GLAD TO BE READING YOU AGAIN. I CANCELLED ACT A
    NUMBER OF YEARS AGO WHEN THEY IGNORED ME AFTER
    JIM BUCHANAN LEFT.
    ALWAYS ENJOYED YOUR INFORMATIVE & LIGHT HEARTED APPROACH.
    ed

  2. Because of you, John Boyle, I have started a monthly contribution to the Watchdog. I had stopped the Citizen Times a few years ago after they cut the meat out of their newspaper. I am very happy to be able to read your column again and am also happy you are with these fine journalists!

  3. John, you were a mainstay at ACT. I left there 24 years ago and started my own business with a partner. Best decision I ever made. I retired last year. Sadly, newspapers are a thing of the past when today you have instant news right there in your hand. Glad you are going to be a part of my instant news.
    Darlene Rowlands

  4. John Boyle’s column was my favorite part of the Citizen-Times. I visit the mountains annually and a local library subscribes to the paper (or at least someone pays for the library’s subscription).

  5. John, I personally am so glad to see you finding a place for your talents and your love of this community and your smart-alecky answers. Thanks for taking on the Jubilee! question to get started. We still meet every Sunday at 46 Wall Street at 10:30 a.m. and will for the foreseeable future! Come have a donut (it might be gluten-free) and some coffee with us one day.

  6. Sad to see what’s happened with Citizen-Times, but I’m glad you’ve found a great place here! AVL Watchdog is one of the few organizations I’ve donated to.

  7. Followed you religiously in the Citizen Times since we bought a house in Maggie Valley in 2005. So glad you are going to keep up the good work here, especially the Answer Man column!

  8. Thank you for joining this organization which made me aware of it and for joining a more inclusive organization. I finally canceled my ACT after repeated failures to receive the paper and a complete lack of effort by ACT to address it. No one seems to care at or for ACT anymore.

  9. Thank you for tackling this subject. There is a lot of misinformation out there and you did a great job clearing that up.

  10. I will support nonprofit local journalism by donating to the Watchdog. Thanks to John Boyle for coming onboard. I have great hopes for this phoenix rising from the ashes of newspaper journalism.

  11. John, delighted to see your column intact once more. I will be one more supporter of nonprofit local journalism. Look forward to your resuming your sassy antics!

  12. In this topsy-turvy world we are living in today your presence in the ACT was like a beacon of light. Throughout the day I read a boatload of stuff but your column in the ACT was always the first thing I would turn to. What a relief that you will continue your excellent work at the Asheville Watchdog. Long live the Answer Man!!! (I just donated for the first time to the Watchdog)

  13. Welcome aboard, John. What a perfect fit for all concerned. I am increasing my monthly donation to Watchdog – we all need this to succeed. Glad to see your Answer Man role continues, but really looking forward to your columns. You are a good journalist and a thoughtful observer. Looking forward to this platform benefiting from that.

  14. So nice to have a place to read your columns and answer man. ACT will not be the same without you.

  15. John, so happy you have settled in with Asheville Watchdog. Your thorough, concise, and yet humorous approach to journalism is a perfect fit. Asheville appreciates your contributions to our ethos!

  16. About all I ever read in ACT was obituaries, Dear Abby and your column. Have canceled my long time subscription and so happy that I can still enjoy your “witty and informative” column.

  17. I’m glad to read this piece about what’s going on with Jub, and am really glad to see Answer Man here with Asheville Watchdog. Thanks for your dedication, John Boyle!

  18. John, you have contributed much not only to Asheville but to a wider audience in western North Carolina with your writing and knowledge. How good it is to be reading you again. Thanks so much. Milton Ready

  19. We are so glad to reconnect to your column John B. We left the Citizen-Times a while back due to the lack of content / price / cutting back a day but we have missed your humor and whit. We look forward to reading your column within WatchDog.

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