History

 

About Franklin Park Arts Center – A History Timeline

The Franklin Park Arts Center is a dream come true for Loudoun Artists and patrons. Its concept, construction and ultimate realization is a story ten years in the making, requiring the dedicated efforts of community leaders, thousands of volunteers and ultimately requiring the approval of Loudoun County voters.

The original dairy barn, 1996

The original dairy barn, 1996

It started with an idea…

In January 1997, a local theater group received permission to raise the funds to convert a 19th century dairy barn to hold theatrical rehearsals and performances. This barn was located on the Franklin farm property, which had been newly purchased by Loudoun County. . Just as the fundraising effort was about to begin, the barn burned to the ground- the result of local boys playing with matches inside the barn. After the fire was extinguished the only recognizable traces of the barn were its silo and a length of stone foundation wall.

Design model, Clint Good Architects, 1998

Design model, Clint Good Architects, 1998

The Dream was born…

Undeterred by the devastating fire, a group of artists and community leaders extended their vision and organized themselves into The Barns at Franklin Park, Inc. with the goal of building Loudoun’s first dedicated performing and visual arts center on the site of the destroyed barn. To help jump-start the community effort, a Design process began; arts organizations throughout Loudoun County provided input on the proposed Arts Center. The volunteer board of Barns at Franklin Park, Inc. began community outreach and fundraising, featuring membership drives, special events, and brick and seat sales. Original start-up funds also included the insurance money from the destroyed barn, approved for use by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

The 'barn raising', Labor Day Weekend, 1998

The ‘barn raising’, Labor Day Weekend, 1998

And so it Began…

On Labor Day Weekend in September, 1998, The Timber Framers Guild of North America, managed by the Blue Ridge Timberwrights, and thousands of volunteers raised the new barn frame in Franklin Park. The timbers came from around the country; some were recycled from dismantled bridges. The longest timbers were found in the St. Lawrence Seaway, recycled from their original use as ‘bumpers’ for logging runs decades earlier.

Over the next 6 years the project continued to grow. A solar array was added to the scope of the project, the Arts Center project was under roof with basic flooring and partitions roughed-in, and the County of Loudoun approved and hired staff for the facility under the Parks Division of Loudoun County’s Department of Parks Recreation and Community Services. The staff temporarily moved into the old Round Hill Elementary School and began programming.

Construction contiues, helped along by over 5,000 volunteers, 2000

Construction contiues, helped along by over 5,000 volunteers, 2000

So Close…

On November 2, 2004, after years of effort, volunteer time, donations and county government support, Loudoun County voters approved a $1.4 million bond to provide the funds necessary to complete construction and open the Arts Center. The Friends of Franklin Park Arts Center advisory board helped spearhead the effort to get the bond referendum passed and soon thereafter became an incorporated 501 (c3) to help meet the financial and programming needs of the center.

After two rounds of bidding, construction began again in late 2006.

Ribbon cutting ceremony, February 2008

Ribbon cutting ceremony, February 2008

On February 2, 2008, after more than 10 years of dedicated effort, The Franklin Park Performing and Visual Arts Center opened its doors to the public with Celebration of the Arts, including the Arts Center first standing ovation for those who helped make the dream of the Arts Center a reality. Since its opening the Arts Center has welcomed over 15,000 artists and more than 150,000 visitors. We have hosted Emmy winners, Grammy winners, and a wide variety of talented local artists. What’s coming next? Come see for yourself!