Alexa House

Alexa House – Mission Center

Alexa House is a Mission Center located next to Second Presbyterian Church of Roanoke, Virginia which serves as a place of hospitality and hope to families in need. Alexa House serves the ministries of Family Promise of Greater Roanoke, Assisting Families of Inmates (AFOI), among others, and is supported by an ecumenical group of families of faith in the valley. 

History of Alexa House

The property at 917 3rd Street (originally 923) was constructed in the 1890’s as a two-story home with a one-story porch, dressed in stick style and gable detail—around the same time that Second Presbyterian’s original Chapel was built in 1892.

The home was converted to a duplex in the early 1920’s adding a second-story porch, two front doors, and a stairwell wing on the left. The lower level was used as a doctor’s office by pediatrician Dr. Roger DuBose, and the second floor apartment was rented. Dr. DuBose practiced medicine there until his death in 1956. His widow, Lucy DuBose, then moved into the upstairs apartment and rented the apartment on the first floor. Dr. and Mrs. DuBose were long-time members of this church, and many other members were his patients.

In the 1990’s, the exterior of the home was remuddled. The duplex door was replaced with a window, stick styling was covered in vinyl, gable vents were added, and windows were wrapped in metal or covered. During this time, the house was renovated into a single-family dwelling.

Second Presbyterian Church purchased the property in 1999 and named it the Alpha Omega House (or AO House). The property was used primarily as a space for church youth (until the purchase of the current youth center named the Intersection at 305 Highland Avenue) and also served missions such as Interfaith Hospitality Network (now known as Family Promise). Church offices were temporarily located in the AO House during the 2012-2014 renovation of Second Presbyterian and addition of Kirk Hall.

After many years of transition and missional use, the building was in serious disrepair and in need of renovating to better serve families experiencing homelessness in our area, and to serve other local mission-centered organizations, as well. The renovation of the Alpha Omega House became one of the four-point goals of Second Presbyterian’s Mission Build Campaign of 2020, which raised over $1.7 million dollars for organizations that work to make the world more loving and compassionate, while building the Kingdom of God.

c. 1983

c. 2019

AO House 2019

c. 2023

Alexa House - temp sign1

The renovation and renaming of Alexa House took place during 2022-2023. The chief goal was to transform the space into a mission center, primarily to house families in threat of homelessness and to provide a location for families to make remote visits to incarcerated loved ones.

It is important to remember that significant funding for the renovation of the house and construction of the playground shared between Alexa House and Beth Israel Synagogue came of three tragedies: The Thanksgiving 2017 death of Dan Yardley due to an automobile accident—an amazing father and husband who left behind three children, renovation to Alexa House was done in his memory. The death of Alexa Cannon, a student at Radford University, due to violence in 2019—to honor her spirit and heart for others, contributions by her family, friends and community were given, and the house renamed in her honor to express the wish that families in crisis find during their stay a place of encouragement and hope. And the death of Rita Magnus, who died as a young girl during the Shoah, the mass murder of Jewish people under the German Nazi regime—her two sisters who survived the Holocaust provided the major funding for constructing the Rita Magnus Memorial Playground behind Alexa House.

As part of the renovation, safety, structural, and energy efficiency upgrades were made, including new electricity, plumbing, and HVAC systems. The home was restored to its duplex floor plan for flexible use, and remuddling was removed in order to uncover lost architectural details and restore the original character of the home. The interior design of the house reflects Alexa’s love of art and photography.

Dedication of Alexa House

A community-wide, ecumenical Service of Dedication for Alexa House was held on Mother’s Day Sunday, May 12, 2024 in the sanctuary of Second Presbyterian Church. As we remembered and honored Alexa Cannon, Rita Magnus, and Dan Yardley, we joyfully dedicated the house to its primary use of providing hope and hospitality to families dealing with housing insecurity. As stated during the service by Dr. George C. Anderson,

“God is working good things through those who love. We will not be defined by the worst that can happen, but rather by the good that we can do. That’s our witness.”

Immediately following the service, a Groundbreaking Ceremony for The Rita Magnus Memorial Playground behind Alexa House took place, along with a reception in the church courtyard on 3rd Street.

The Service of Dedication live stream can be viewed here.

The renovation of Alexa House was made possible by . . .

Second Presbyterian Church’s Mission Build Campaign

A lead gift given by Bill and Shireen Kirk

A Sunday Morning Collection at St. John’s Episcopal Church

A Grant from the Sam and Marion Golden Helping Hand Foundation

A Grant from the Beirne Carter Foundation

A Grant from the Mission Endowment at Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church

Proceeds from the auction of Helen Fitzpatrick’s art collection by Eric Fitzpatrick

Furnishings by Grand Home Furnishings through a gift of the Cartledge, Bennett, Haggerty and Hoff Families

Memorials in memory of

• Alexa Cannon
• Helen Fitzpatrick
• Dan Yardley
• And Others

And numerous individual gifts

Future Rita Magnus Memorial Playground made possible by . . .

Beth Israel Synagogue given in memory of Rita Magnus

The generosity of Rita’s sisters: Helga Morrow and Anita Frank