The graffiti in the bathrooms of the James R. Jones Cooperative House co-op have been covered by fresh coats of green and blue paint.
The shattered windows have been replaced.
The carpet that once smelled of beer and cigarettes has been ripped out.
After extensive renovations this summer, Jones House bears little resemblance to the decaying structure that once occupied 917 and 923 S. Forest Ave.
The Inter-Cooperative Council, which oversees campus co-ops, shut it down at the end of the last school year to renovate the property.
Cindy Christiansen, director of maintenance services for the ICC, said the house received approximately $193,000 worth of renovations, paid for by the ICC. This involved remodeling several of the house’s bathrooms, installing new flooring and adding two new rooms.
Travis Jones, an LSA senior and house manager, said the complete renovation of the house was necessary because all previous attempts at fixing it up were unsuccessful.
“Everything that we had tried before was very piecemeal,” said Jones, a former ICC president.
Christiansen said the large amount of money previously spent on unsuccessful changes convinced ICC board members of the need for a complete overhaul.
“Once I showed them how much money had been poured into the house with ineffective attempts at change, they made the hard decision to empty it out completely,” Christiansen said.
In addition to the physical renovations, the co-op is now focusing on attracting graduate students to live there.
Two-thirds of Jones House’s 38 residents are currently graduate students. The remaining residents are either undergraduates or are no longer students.
Jones said the idea to market the house to graduate students first came up in 2006.
With the house’s proximity to the Ross School of Business and the Law School, it’s convenient for graduate students to live there, Jones said.
And unlike the house’s former tenants, Jones said graduate students “tend to be more mature and able to take better care of the house.”
“There weren’t any houses specifically for graduate students yet,” Jones said. “This was the first chance we could give a house to a graduate population.”
Christiansen said the decision for a graduate-themed co-op will improve the reputation of the Jones House.
“We’re really trying to change the culture within the house,” Christiansen said. “Now that it’s graduate students in there, I think it’s really going to help the situation many times over.”
Linda Phan, a graduate student in the College of Pharmacy and a Jones House resident, said what she enjoys most about the house is its democratic environment.
“Everybody has a say and it actually matters,” Phan said. “I’ve never lived anywhere that’s so community focused with everyone making an effort to try and make this place look better.”
Ultimately, Jones said it’s the residents at the Jones House who make it so enjoyable.
“What really makes this house a success right now is the people,” Jones said. “It’s just a great group and everyone is really dedicated to the house.”
House members recently took part in a work holiday weekend that involved various home improvement projects.
Some residents painted walls and hallways. Others sanded and stained the house’s wood flooring.
For some, these improvement projects create a sense of connection with where they live.
“It feels so personal working together to improve our house,” Phan said.
She added with a laugh, “But it’s probably the most work I’ve ever done in my entire life.”