Halloween 2018 was definitely a “treat” for Carriage House Players as the local performing arts group realized a long-held dream of owning its own home, acquiring the building at 301 East Market Street in Fayetteville.
Words could not describe the excitement and joy felt by CHP members Wednesday as they officially closed on the property, also known as “the old Fred’s building”. The signing took place at the office of Fraley and Hill, Attorneys at Law.
“We’ve worked hard these past five years to raise enough money to make a down payment on the property, which we plan to convert into a theater,” said Mickey Johnson, chairman of CHP’s building committee. “Actually, the purchase is the result of 31 years of diligence as an organization.”
CHP has tentative floor plans designed for renovations to the property, which will serve as a theater and event center. The theater, which will include 20,344 square feet, will comfortably seat approximately 180 people in a tiered floor plan for optimal viewing of the stage, according to the plans. The event center will accommodate close to 200 people and include a kitchen suitable for catered events.
“I’m so excited,” said Brenda Wilkes, assistant treasurer. “We’ve waited so long for this day!”
The new home will be called The Carriage House and will serve as the organization’s home office, rehearsal hall, set construction workshop, costume closet, prop room, ticket office and theater.
“The new Carriage House offers opportunities for us today and for generations to come,” said Sara Jo Piece, CHP’s current president. “I, along with my children and grandchildren, will benefit from this facility for many years.”
The building will be renovated in phases. Phase I will be the lobby and event center area. This space will be available for anyone in the community to rent for weddings, reunions and parties. The area will offer a nice open floor space for around 20 tables, large restrooms, a 14- by 16-foot kitchen, a visually appealing staircase and ample parking.
“The location has an appeal since it is just one block off the square,” said Rachel Benson, CHP secretary.
Wrapping up its 31st season, Carriage House Players is the oldest performing arts organization in Lincoln County. It has been blessed with a group of faithful followers who continues to expand to our neighbors in Giles, Lawrence and Moore counties in Tennessee and to our friends in Alabama.
Monthly business meetings are conducted the second Tuesday of each month. The upcoming Nov. 13 meeting will be held in the group’s new home and is open to the community.
Each year the organization produces four shows, ranging from comedies, mysteries and dramas to musicals – “We try to offer something for everyone,” said Sonia Bradford. In addition, Voices of Carriage House also does two shows yearly, including an annual Christmas show, and every summer, the group offers two weeks of drama camp for area youth, teaching them stage craft and the technical aspects of theater. The organization is busy all year long.
Johnson and Wilkes said the group hopes to be able to have the event center open in early 2020 and the theater ready later that year. A formal ribbon-cutting and open house will be scheduled to mark the occasion as it approaches.