By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie was not going to be available for our usual meeting, so he asked Amy Golden, Customer Relations Manager for the City of Athens and Athens Arts League president, to fill in for him and bring us up to speed with regard to the Scout Music House. A little background—The Scout House, which is located on the corner of Washington and East Streets in historic Athens was built by the W.P.A., or Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression; the need for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts is never greater than during a national crisis. The charming building, complete with a stone fireplace, bay windows, and hardwood floors had many uses throughout the years. Amy’s mother’s Brownie troop met there, some folks claim it was where they got their first kiss, and until a few years ago, it was used for office space by the Athens City Schools.
One day, Amy, City of Athens Communications Specialist Holly Hollman, and Athens Arts League Program Chair Diane Lehr were brainstorming about a good use for the building, which was also at times referred to as “Little Red,” and came up with the idea of a Music House. The Athens Arts League and High Cotton Arts Center have been busy and successful working towards solidifying the rightful place of creativity and the development of artistic presence in our community, but there was no comparable venue for music. The Scout House seemed like the perfect place, and it was also a wonderful re-purposing project. “The Arts League felt compelled to offer music,” Amy said simply.
Amy told me, “The response of the community has been phenomenal, which highlights the community’s awareness of the need for this type of project.” There have been private donations of just a few dollars on up to generous corporate ones, most recently the $30,000 gift from the Steelcase Foundation, and a $40,000 grant from the DEKKO Foundation. In addition, a handicapped entrance has been built. Lowe’s has been greatly involved with landscaping and materials, and as usual I am concerned that I am leaving someone out who has stepped up and given. My apologies in advance! The Athens Arts League is a 501 3C not-for-profit organization, and all donations are tax deductable.
Amy continued, “The music world has changed so much over the years, and it has become a business. Our hope is that the Scout Music House will become both a state of the art music production center, as well as a place where students can learn the business side of music.” They will also be holding concerts there, and the target age is elementary school age kids through high school. Our school system has been solidly behind this project, and understands the importance of music in education and cognitive development.
“We want the Scout Music House to be a safe haven where kids can go and hone their talent, and achieve their dreams,” said Amy as we concluded our time together. And then it was time for Amy to roll, but not before she said, “You know, someone probably has the old W.P.A. bronze plaque that used to be on the building sitting in their den, or has an idea where it might be.” If that’s you, and you want to part with it for a worthy cause, you can give her a call at 256-262-1525.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner