While it's been a decade since the official opening of the Chehalem Cultural Center, a landmark the organization will celebrate in myriad ways over the next several months, the process of transforming the former Central School into a community gathering place has actually been 25 years in the making.
The process began with the June 1995 closure of Central School, built in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration on East Sheridan Street. No longer adequate to serve the student population, the building was shuttered and the students sent to the newly-constructed Antonia Crater Elementary School. The former Central School building was then put up for sale by the Newberg School District and a number of organizations displayed interest, including George Fox University, but ultimately there were no takers. The building sat vacant for nearly two years before the school district sold it for a dollar to the Chehalem Park and Recreation District, which originally had its eye on the property for a community center.
The CPRD sought funding to remodel the building via a bond levy in fall 1997 the barely failed. Unthwarted, the park district returned to the voters again the following spring after a vigorous campaign to inform the voters on plans for the structure. That bond attempt failed badly, prompting the park district to adopt a long-term plan to renovate the building as funds became available.
A committee was formed to chart the future of the building as its intended use changed to a community cultural center. The organization sought both state and federal grants, the first coming from the federal government to do a seismic upgrade the make the building safe for habitation. Other grants paid for structural upgrades. Donations from a variety of charitable organizations as well as local citizens helped pay for updates and renovations, which were all done with an eye toward preserving as much of the design elements as possible.
Finally, in March 2010, after sitting empty for 15 years, the first phase of the roughly $10 million renovation was revealed to the public and included art galleries, classrooms, glass and ceramics studios, meeting and office spaces. In the years since the facility has renovated the former gymnasium into a ballroom, added a culinary center and made large renovations to the Black Box Theater. The third phase of the project will include renovation of the school's large theater upstairs, as well as the addition of a movement studio, conference rooms and a redesigned grand lobby.
"We have a couple of classroom spaces already on the second floor and, in total, have refinished roughly two-thirds of Central School," said Sean Andries, CCC executive director. "There is still much to do. … I can only share so much at this time, but things are moving and plans are taking shape. We will have more exciting details to share in the months to come."
Andries said the CCC expects to expand the Camellia Festival to a second day this year and host a dinner called the Camellia Feast the day prior to the festival's opening.
The addition of a new art installation is on tap at the CCC as well.
"We are also hard at work to realize a new public art project we have been eyeing for some time," Andries said. "We are calling it 'Reverberations' and it will be a series of public sculptures designed by under-represented communities in and around Newberg who have contributed considerably to the cultural heritage of our region. The project is conceived as a way to forward their voices in the public arena."
Arts & Leisure briefs
Newberg Community Band to perform March 15
The Newberg Community Band will hold a concert at 2:30 p.m. March 15 at Bauman Auditorium on the campus of George Fox University. The concert is tailored for children and will feature music from "Mary Poppins," "Star Wars," Leroy Anderson's Typewriter and Rising Dragons, as well as two pieces for trumpet with Grammy Award-winner Charlie Porter. Children will also get an opportunity to conduct the band
For more information, visit www.newbergcommunityband.com or call 971-264-1509.
Gallery theater will premier 'Proof' March 20
McMINNVILLE – Gallery Theater will begin nine performances of "Proof" on March 20 with Friday and Saturday shows set for 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Written by David Auburn and directed by Marla Nuttman, the play follows Catherine (played by Linnea Rusaw), a troubled young woman who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father (played by Tim Jaeger), who is a famous mathematician. Following his death she must deal with her own volatile emotions, the arrival of her estranged sister and the attentions of a former student of her father's who hopes to find valuable work in the hundreds of mathematics notebooks her father left behind.
The performances are recommended for ages 13 and older.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for students and seniors. They may be purchased online at www.gallerytheater.org or call 503-472-2227.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.