Southside Preservation Hall, the sprawling red-brick complex at the corner of Lipscomb Street and Maddox Avenue, is a preeminent setting in Near Southside’s Fairmount neighborhood.
The century-old group of interconnecting buildings stands the test of time.
Built by the same contractors who worked on other notable Fort Worth landmarks like Will Rogers Coliseum and Amon G. Carter Stadium, Southside Preservation Hall was on the verge of demolition multiple times over the years, yet it survived.
In 1995, a nonprofit formed by a group of well-wishing Fairmount neighbors took on the responsibility of preserving and restoring the complex, once occupied by Central Methodist Church and then Panther Boys Club.
To carry out much-need repair and restoration works, the nonprofit association had and still are dependent on revenues generated from holding weddings and other events at the venue. As a nonprofit, donations are also always welcomed.
The revenue streams, however, has dried out since the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year.
“We have approached this building the same way that we approached an old house in the Fairmount neighborhood back 25 years ago,” said Jeff Gibbons, director of Southside Preservation Association, the nonprofit operator of the complex.
After careful ruminations, the association now hopes to change how it functions. “We just can’t continue to assume that things are going to carry on the way they have been for the last 25 years,” Gibbons added.
So, when a group of fast-talking, tech-savvy students with social media expertise from Roxo – TCU’s student-led marketing agency – approached to help pro bono, the association welcomed the aid.
“We needed younger people for energy,” Gibbons said. “Most of the people that are involved on the board of the association and are involved with events are much older than Roxo. So it’s really great to have their expertise, which is marketing.”
Roxo is overseeing all its marketing efforts and is trying to segue the Gothic-era Southside Preservation Hall into the digital age.
“[Roxo] know so many things that we don’t know,” Gibbons said. “They are, of course, automatically, way more familiar with the social media than we are.”
The slew of works include website design, updating and building social media presence, maintaining public relations, event planning, branding and a brand-new logo design, among others. The hall’s Instagram account, for e.g., is now full of visually appealing picture posts complete with hashtags and emojis. It has garnered continuous followers as well since Roxo started their work earlier this fall. Three months ago, the Instagram account was virtually non-existent.
The employees at Roxo, most of whom belong to Generation Z, are concurrently attending college. The students gain first-hand experiential knowledge of working in the professional world.
The student agency has served about 75 businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex since its founding nine years ago. This semester alone, Roxo is working with six clients,. At least half of its clients are nonprofits every year, a commitment Roxo wants to carry forward.
Alongside Southside Preservation Hall, this semester Roxo is also working pro bono for James L West Alzheimer Center.
“The pandemic has caused so much distress. And in the face of all this change, we want to bring joy to our clients when joy is not around as much,” said Madison McQuary, a strategic communications senior and current-president of Roxo. “So we are really positive and happy and want to spread love. And we just also wanted to make sure all of our client’s needs were met, and just giving back to them because they’re the people who make our business possible
A recent United Way of Texas report found that over 70% of nonprofit organizations in Texas have had to change or decrease their operations as a result of the pandemic.
“The mission that we have in Roxo is to cultivate relationships through creative problem solving,” McQuary said. “We also have a vision statement that really guides us. And it’s building industry leaders through real world experience.”
Roxo runs like any other professional PR and marketing agency, generating its own revenues from jobs from its clienteles.
Each semester, the 30 or so student-employees are divided into different teams. According to the need, each team gets a social media manager, graphic designer, copywriter, public relations manger, account planner, creative director and account account. Usually a team of seven will work with a particular business client throughout the semester.
“In today’s economy, businesses that don’t invest in promoting their products or services, find that they can’t reach new customers, and they can’t grow their businesses,” McQuary said.
Fort Worth-based BNSF also has sponsored some of Roxo’s works over the years.
For Southside Preservation Hall, the new marketing chops may have generated fresh buzz that even resulted in new business opportunities, but the work is far from over.
A final overview project is being worked on and is to be unveiled later this year, according to Roxo.
“We help them bring their ideas to life and hope the local businesses achieve their goals,” McQuary said. “Especially because right now, so much change is happening and clients have so many new challenges to navigate: a new normal. So we’re looking for more service opportunities.”