By Pat Wilson
The Central Virginian June 29, 2006
The school auditorium in the rear section of the town hall on Fredericksburg Avenue in the town of Louisa has been gutted, and its future as a state-of-the art theater is still under construction. An adjacent gallery is in the final site preparation phase.
The Louisa Arts Center is close to becoming a reality, and the Louisa Downtown Development Corporation board of directors wants to show off the progress of the contractor, Loudin Building Systems, in converting the former school into a community facility.
Members of the community are invited to participate in guided tours, wearing hard hats painted by Louisa County High School art students, on Saturday, July 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
“The building is taking on a whole new life. We want people to see what is to come,” said Pam Stone, LDDC chair. “This is our first public introduction of the project.”
Photo: Stacy Smith, a painting contractor, puts the final touches on trim in the future town hall’s meeting room. The Louisa Downtown Development Corporation is holding a Hard Hat Tour on Saturday, July 1 to allow the public to view the restoration progress of the former school into an arts center.
The auditorium, which hosted plays, assemblies and graduation exercises for generations of Louisa youth, is under renovation as a 212-seat theater, boasting the latest technology in sound and lighting, plus projection capabilities.
A mezzanine, already roughed in, will house the equipment, and backstage, two dressing rooms and a storage area will complete the 3,500- square-foot area.
The directors anticipate revenue from ticket sales and rental fees from private functions or other fund-raisers sponsored by churches or civic organizations, to further their goal to create as close to a self-sustaining arts center as possible.
Performances could be scheduled as soon as next spring.
“Ginna Cullen [board member] and her program committee are looking at booking possibilities,” said Stone.
The 1,600-square-foot gallery with a catering kitchen, situated on the northwest side of the building, will provide an open area for family reunions, wedding receptions and socializing during intermission. Walls will allow juried artistic exhibits, and a patio will add additional space.
Once completed, the gallery and its nearby parking area, will serve as the main entrance for the town offices.
Two classrooms on the second floor are earmarked for future development for art instruction and related workshops.
The LDDC, a non-profit group, has reached about 50 percent of its fund-raising goal of $1.5 million to cover construction costs. In addition, money will be needed to equip and furnish the facility and pave the parking lot, as well as finish the upstairs classrooms.
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors has pledged $400,000 over a period of four years. The W. A. Cooke Foundation and John Jerl Purcell and Harold Purcell have donated in honor of family members. Several corporations and the Virginia General Assembly have also contributed to the arts center.
The LDDC directors are actively seeking donations from individuals, businesses, corporations and foundations to complete the project.
“We have had great support from several strong contributors,” said Stone “There is still plenty of money to be raised and opportunities for people to support us.”
The board of directors is planning several fund-raising functions this year, including a “Back-To-School” get together for former students and alumni. The organization’s website affords a location for them to register and network with their history.
“We feel this will be a wonderful experience for so many people in the community,” said Stone.
More information about the LDDC and the project, as well as a periodically updated status of the building, is available at the website, www.louisaarts.org or by contacting Stone at (540) 967-2582.