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Do you know the History of our Center For The Arts?

Submitted by Susan Loyd

As Murfreesboro grew exponentially in the latter part of the1990’s, and MTSU was
quickly becoming the largest school in the state, it became evident that the arts were missing from our city. A city with no arts is like a sky with no clouds, so a team of caring citizens decided to do something about it. It was not easy!

Our U.S. House of Representative, Bart Gordon, diligently worked to get the federal government to donate the former Linebaugh Library for the center. He was successful, and the same year, the city donated $500,000 with the hope that the fourteen appointed commissioners, lead by John Hood, would make it happen!

Along with hundreds of caring patrons, countless corporate donations, two generous charitable foundation checks from Ted and Gloria LaRoche, and Andy and Dottie Adams, and lastly a greatly appreciated $500,000 grant from Christy- Houston, the wheels began to turn. Johnson Bailey Architects drew up the interior renovations in 1994, and things were underway!

A gala was planned, $50 bricks were sold to pave the sidewalk, 168 new seats were installed in the theatre and a full-time director was hired. The icing on the cake was Larry Schumacher, a brilliant designer, who made the entire building come together. He ordered drapes, carpet, marble floors, and everything necessary to make the center beautiful. From opening day, the center was in full swing, focused on exposing and teaching the arts to our area youth, and delighting patrons with wonderful exhibits and performances.

Major Renovation Took Place Last Summer

Today, twenty-four years later, the Beaux-Arts building remains one of the most beautiful in Murfreesboro, and the arts remain a vital entity in attracting new companies and families to our city. After a much needed new roof was installed recently, the center’s bank account could not justify major reconstruction which was greatly needed. It broke my heart to drive by and see the peeling paint, crumbling windows, years of built up dirt, and overgrown landscaping. The interior was equally in need of refurbishing. A major overhaul was a necessity!

Fortunately, wonderful friends, Ted and Gloria LaRoche, who love Murfreesboro and the arts, made it happen. They generously donated a reconstruction grant, which would preserve the building for any years to come, and give a beautiful new presence to the corner of Lytle and Church. Only two things they asked of me: that I be the lead contractor (I have my TN contractor’s license, and of course did the work pro bono) and have the center conduct a matching fund raising campaign to have ownership in the reconstruction program. Throughout the summer of 2018, we pressure washed, scraped, and painted inside and out. We installed a new LED lighting system and a new state of the art sound system (the old one had literally bit the dust). We bought new microphones, a new cubical office system, catalogued the costumes and started a rental program for them, refurbished the bathrooms (which were totally outdated), created a “green room” for the actors, and built a small café to sell pizza, cookies and libations during intermission. Life at the center is good! They produce 14 or more plays a year, and work with over 600 children in its youth programs. It is a vital part of the arts in Rutherford County. Patience Long leads her dedicated staff brilliantly and makes it all come together seamlessly. You can reach the center at

What Are The Arts and Why Do They Matter?

Art is “everything that is imagined and created for human enjoyment” …paintings, movies, songs, plays, fiddling clogging, all the wonderful things we love. The arts in Rutherford County encompass so many variations and have generated $31.2 million in economic activity. The Nashville area has recently been ranked fourth nationally in arts vibrancy. Because of this, the time was right to leverage our collective strength and take arts in Rutherford County to the next level. This past December (lead by Andrea Loughry, Vice Chair of the TN Arts Commission, and our city appointed art laureates), all of our art groups formed a registered 501c3 “Rutherford Arts Alliance” to connect all creatives in our community and prompt all the arts, culture, and heritage to transform our county into a cultural destination. This benefits us all…business, tourism, and the quality of our lives. We are blessed with a wonderful place to live!

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