Tryon Fine Arts Center started with $25,000 bequest

Published 3:21 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2009

&bsp;Big donation offered group if people approve

(August 1964)

There will be a meeting in the Tryon School auditorium at 8 o&squo;clock in the evening on Tuesday, August 11th, to determine what shall be done to meet the challenge of an offer of a considerable sum of money for a &dquo;civic auditorium and art center&dquo; in the Tryon community. The funds will be available only if an equal amount is raised by subscription.

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The meeting was called by Fanning Hearon, president of the Tryon Little Theatre, Inc., to whom the offer has been made. Representatives of all the art groups, cultural groups, civic groups, service clubs and any other organizations or individuals interested in such a project are cordially invited ‐ in fact, urged to attend, according to Mr. Hearon.

The Little Theatre was approached because its current campaign for funds to purchase and remodel the Parish-Watson barn on Harmon Field Road for a &dquo;home of its own&dquo; impressed those in charge of the available funds as being a determined, well organized effort to really do something about a community art center for Tryon. The subject has been talked about for years but nothing has been accomplished.

&dquo;While the offer has been made to the Little Theatre,&dquo; says President Hearon, &dquo;as we say in our fund drive brochure, we want whatever we manage to develop to be used by all the area&squo;s art groups, so we want to present the matter for their consideration as well as our own. Tryon has been a place of culture for 75 years, but has had no center for such activities. The availability of these funds appears to be the perfect opportunity.&dquo;


Mrs. Parish-Watson wills $25,000 for community center

(August 1964)

A bequest of $25,000 for &dquo;a civic auditorium and art center&dquo; in the Tryon area in the will of the late Mrs. Violet Leland Erskine Parish-Watson was revealed to about 50 people at a community meeting at the Tryon School Tuesday evening by Fanning Hearon, president of the Tryon Little Theatre, Inc. Mr. Hearon read a communication to this effect from Baxter M. Haynes and John G. Landrum Jr., co-executors, estate of Violet Leland Erskine Parish-Watson.

The bequest is conditioned upon the following specific requirements:

&dquo;(a) That there shall be in existence not later than two years after the date of my death a non-profit corporation authorized to construct such civic auditorium and art center, donations and bequests to which shall, in opinion of counsel to be selected by my executors, be deductible for United States income and estate tax purposes; and

&dquo;(b) That such corporation shall, not later than two years after the date of my death, have raised, or obtained committment for, an equal or greater sum through public subscriptions and donations by not less than one hundred persons.&dquo;

Mr. Hearon explained to the gathering that the Little Theatre had been approached by those controlling the funds because it qualifies as the &dquo;non-profit corporation&dquo; specific in the will and because it has in motion a definite, organized campaign for funds to provide a home for itself and an art center. The Little Theatre points out in its fund drive brochure that it welcomes all other art groups in the area to share its proposed establishment, and therefore this general gathering was held.

Following an hour&squo;s discussion, the group voted authorization for the president of the Little Theatre to appoint a committee to consider the possibility of raising the required $25,000 and report accordingly as soon as possible. Mr. Hearon said he would name the committee at once.


Drive underway for civic center

(Sept. 1964)

A committee headed by James H. Black to raise $25,000 to match the bequest of the late Mrs. Violet Parish-Watson for a &dquo;civic auditorium and art center&dquo; has been named by Fanning Hearon, president of the Tryon Little Theatre, the organization selected as meeting the requirements of the bequest.

Others on the committee are Harry Bedell, Stanley Buckingham, Mrs. Marguerite Brooks, David Cromer, George Fennebresque, Mrs. Norme Frost, Mrs. Henry Hall, Daniel Merrill, Herbert Thatcher and Ben White.

As the Little Theatre has offered the value of the barn on Harmon Field Road it is purchasing as part of the required $25,000 and has $2,400 in pledges, about $7,000 is already available. In addition there is about $1,500 in cash and committments for the art center for a total of approximately $8,500. The committee will make a determined effort to raise the rest by early November.

So that contributions may be deductible for tax purposes checks should be made payable to the Tryon Little Theatre, Inc. with an indication they are for the art center or the Little Theatre.


Need a match for civic center

(Sept. 1964)

Matching a bequest of $25,000 for a new civic auditorium is the goal of a drive starting today with four groups banded together to raise the money.

The Tryon Little Theatre, which started on its own earlier, has joined hands with the Tryon Concert Association, Tryon Crafts, and the Chamber of Commerce, to take advantage of the bequest, in order to build a larger hall than first planned.

The auditorium would house exhibition rooms for craft and art exhibits, be available for concerts, lectures, meetings, receptions, etc., in addition to becoming the new home of the Tryon players.

The barn adjacent to Harmon Field has already been bought by the Little Theatre. Plans for its conversion to a civic auditorium and art center have been completed. Cost of the remodeling, parking lot, landscaping, etc., has been estimated at $37,500. Operating expenses have been estimated at $2,500 a year.

Some $7,500 has been pledged or donated, much of it having been given to the Little Theatre. This leaves $17,500 to be raised in the drive, which will last until Oct. 24.

The $25,000 bequest was disclosed in the will of Mrs. Parish-Watson after the Little Theatre&squo;s drive got under way. It was not disclosed sooner because the will specified the bequest was to go only to an existing group qualified for federal tax exemption, and until recently no such group had actively commenced raising money for an auditorium. Under the terms of the will a matching $25,000 must be in hand or pledged no later than two years from Mrs. Parish-Watson&squo;s death, which was on Nov. 13, 1962.

If the drive is successful, $50,000 will be available in cash and pledges. Any unused balance will be used as directed by circumstances and a board of directors made up of one member from each group and four members from the general public. A charter with appropriate bylaws for such an organization is now in preparation.

James Black, chairman of a committee, has announced the following team captains to conduct the drive. People wishing to help should contact a captain in their area. Captains are: Ben White, Mrs. Gertrude Taylor, Col. and Mrs. Norme D. Frost, Miss Jane S. Brown, Mrs. Elizabeth Oliver, Mrs. Alice Kerhulas, Mrs. Nancy Ernst, James Elliott Johnson, Dr. J.C. Placak Jr., David Cromer, Mrs. Gladys Culberson, Mrs. William A. West, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Ingwersen.


Over $56,000 now available for new center

(Nov. 1964)

Inspired by the gift of $25,000 from the will of the late Mrs. Parish-Watson for a community auditorium and art center provided the amount be matched by others, over 400 friends of Tryon have subscribed $31,600, according to an announcement by James H. Black, chairman of the Citizens Committee to raise the matching funds.

The dream of Mrs. Parish-Watson for an art center and auditorium for Tryon can now be realized with over $56,000 available, and more coming in as friends learn what it means for the present and future generations to have such an institution for the community and area. Plans call for an auditorium that will seat 350 people for The Little Theatre, Musical Concert Assn. and other civic programs.

There will be rooms for arts and crafts, workshops and display rooms for all forms of art and hobbies which will enable talented people to share their experiences with others and inspire them to enjoy a richer life in the community.

The civic center will be designed to attract people of all ages and to offer many opportunities for expression and development.

Chairman Black said yesterday that he loved Tryon so much and was proud of the splendid work done by the loyal team captains who pushed door bells, wrote letters and helped in other ways to take the message to the people. He said the civic center will not only be a living memorial to Mrs. Parish-Watson but also to everyone who has contributed in any way to make it possible.

Many people of varied talents contributed their services. Eugene Warner, noted writer and artist, handled the publicity; D.D. Merrill, architect and vice president of The Little Theatre (which acted as the depository for the drive), Wm. A. McFarland, attorney for the citizens, John G. Landrum and Baxter Haynes, trustees for the Parish-Watson estate, all cooperated to make the campaign a success.

Among the many others who helped in the drive were Mrs. W.H. Crandall, Miss Sue Hipps, Mrs. George Fennebresque, Dr. Joseph C. Placak Jr., Dudley C. Smith, Mrs. Theo Kerhulas, R.B. White, Stanley Buckingham, Mrs. William A West, Ernst Mahler Jr., John A. Stephenson Jr., Miss Jane Brown, Mrs. Paul Culberson, Mrs. Herbert D. Oliver, Mrs. Minto Henderson Jr., David A Cromer, Col. and Mrs. Norme D. Frost, Rev. and Mrs. Charles A. Grier, Mrs. Gertrude Taylor, Mrs. Robert A. Ernst, James Elliott Johnson and Louis Ingwersen.

The drive started Sept. 29, but &dquo;much remains to be done,&dquo; said Chairman Black. &dquo;Raising the money is only the first step. Our various groups must form a permanent organization, which will be able to perpetuate itself. Decisions must be made on what facilities can now be added, contracts let, supervision of the building maintained, and a host of other matters decided and executed. Our job has just begun.&dquo;

Other contributions will be coming in and anyone desiring to share in this great community project and enjoy having a part in providing so much happiness to others may send in their contributions now. Every dollar will help to make and maintain a better center for all in the years to come.