Athens Arts League announced today (Thursday, Aug. 17) that it received a $40,000 pledge to embark on Phase 2 of a renovation project near Downtown Athens.
Athens Arts League will leverage the funds with in-kind work for its opus, re-purposing an empty building on Washington Street into a music venue called Scout Music House. The venue will offer house concerts, hands-on music related training for students and exhibits to honor Limestone County’s musical legacy.
Dekko Foundation based in Indiana stated in a letter to Athens Arts League President Amy Golden that, “Our research into child development tells us that music can support many other skills, knowledge and character development in children and teens.”
Dekko Foundation’s mission is to foster economic freedom through education. Dekko’s funding is contingent on Athens Arts League raising the remainder $55,000 for Phase 2 through cash donations or in-kind work.
The facility is a former Scout House for Boy and Girl scouts and the former central office for Athens City Schools. It has been vacant for more than four years. The City of Athens leased the facility to Athens Arts League with the challenge of raising funds to renovate it and turn it into a music venue.
Friends of the Scout House Committee Chair Holly Hollman said the community is embracing the challenge along with Athens Arts League. The Athens Lowe’s store, local contracting company Athens Handyman, the Boy Scouts and an anonymous contractor have committed in-kind work. Phase 2 includes completing the exterior repairs, adding a handicap accessible ramp and entrance, and converting the bathroom into a handicap accessible facility.
“Handicap accessibility has always been a necessity for public buildings, and when I learned there was no current handicap access, I felt like it was my duty as a Scout and as a Christian to help,” said Boy Scout John Paul, who is constructing a handicap accessible entrance ramp.
Athens Arts League started renovations at the end of 2016. The League funded Phase 1 at a cost of $35,500, with a Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s grant and in-kind services. That work included the front façade, drought tolerant landscaping, removal of decaying trees and exposing the original stone fireplace. Phase 3, estimated to cost $69,500, will complete the interior. The goal is to open by late fall/early winter 2018.
"I am so excited that we have a place for children here in Athens to learn about music,” said local singer/songwriter Lillian Glanton, who appeared on American Idol. “When I was in school, I didn't have this opportunity. I always felt like the kid who was doing something different. I don't want any kid who aspires to pursue music to feel left out. The Scout Music House will fill this void.”
Athens Arts League is collaborating with local schools on programs that will provide hands-on experiences for students, such as scheduling, marketing and recording house concerts, public performance opportunities, and use of a student music lab.
“Music speaks when words cannot, and it has shaped me into the person I am today,” Glanton said. “I am so excited about this project and I can't wait to see what the future holds."
Glanton has secured space at High Cotton Arts to work with students on songwriting. High Cotton Arts, also operated by Athens Arts League, is a non-profit downtown arts incubator with a primary focus on the visual arts. It does not offer the privacy Glanton needs but serves as a temporary site until Scout Music House is complete. In addition, Friends of the Scout House Committee member Jim McDole is providing members of Girl Scout Troop 1922 guitar lessons to help them earn their music badges. He will utilize High Cotton Arts or City Hall when they are available until Scout Music House opens.
“We have sought opportunities to give the community ownership with us on this project,” Hollman said. “Girl Scouts from Troop 1922, for example, pull weeds each month. The Boy Scouts have completed one and are starting two more Eagle Scout projects here. Other non-profits like Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful have joined us as have local businesses and the schools.”
Amanda Gudmundsson, director of Fine Arts at Athens City Schools, said Scout Music House will serve many facets of the system’s students.
“Athens City Schools Fine Arts Department is very excited about the opportunity that the Scout Music House will afford our students, and we look forward to Scout Music House becoming a fully functioning physical conduit between ACS Fine Arts and Athens Arts League,” she said. “Not only will it serve as a living historical repository for Athens City, but a facility to further fine arts educational opportunities, such as music, instrumental and choir, visual arts and concert space available to both our traditional and non-traditional students.”
Roger Murrah, award-winning songwriter and Athens native, said he wishes there had been a facility and programs like the Scout Music House when he was a child in Athens. Murrah, who wrote number one hits for artists like Alabama and Alan Jackson, said the project will give students a foundation to explore their interest in music careers.
Those who are interested in supporting Scout Music House can email Hollman at email@example.com or donate online at https://www.ioby.org/project/scoutmusichouse.
Breakdown of in-kind work for Phase 2:
A white - not red Scout House?
Yes, the original Scout House on Washington Street was white. Many thanks to Mary Ann Gordon for sharing this photo of swimmers at Big Spring Memorial Park where the city pool used to be located. In the background is the Scout House with its original white exterior.
Athens Arts League is working to renovate the iconic structure into the Scout Music House. Donate by June 30 and thanks to an anonymous donor, your donation will double!
Here is the online donation link:
Singer/songwriter Lillian Glanton said Scout Music House would have been a “safe haven” for her to pursue her interests in singing and songwriting and collaborate with peers who have similar interests.
Glanton, the recent West Limestone High School graduate who made it to the Hollywood round of American Idol, is eager to share her experiences with students as part of the Scout Music House project. Athens Arts League is raising money to complete restoration of the iconic red Scout House at 313 West Washington Street and repurpose the empty building into a music venue with a student music lab and cultural events for the community.
A $2,500 anonymous donation through the project’s online campaign at ioby.org has given organizers an opportunity to double that donation for a total of $5,000. Those funds would help with interior renovations including paint, lighting, furniture, and restoring the original stone fireplace into operation.
“On Friday nights, I wasn’t going to football games. I was playing gigs,” Glanton told project organizers earlier this year. “On weeknights I wasn’t going to basketball games, I was writing songs or taking lessons. The Scout House would have been a place for me to explore those interests with others who love music.”
The City of Athens leased Scout House to Athens Arts League with the challenge of turning it into a music venue. Friends of the Scout House Committee is assisting with the project. The goal is to offer a student music lab, house concert area, exhibit area and space for collaborations for songwriting and performing. Students will receive hands-on experience scheduling, marketing and recording house concerts and music workshops. Glanton, award-winning songwriter Roger Murrah and Garth Brooks’ studio drummer Milton Sledge have committed to assist with programs. Sledge and his wife Vickie have also supported fundraising efforts.
Athens Arts League has submitted two grant proposals that are pending review, and local support can assist the League with the grant process.
“The challenge match issued by ioby.org to turn $2,500 into $5,000 would show grantors that our community is invested in this project and supports the need for music opportunities,” said Friends of the Scout House Committee Chair Holly Hollman. “If someone makes a $10 donation through the challenge match, it automatically turns into $20. If a person makes a $50 donation, it turns into $100.”
The deadline to reach $5,000 is June 30.
To support the challenge match, go online at https://www.ioby.org/campaign/scout-music-house-match-challenge. Donors can also write checks if they do not want to donate by credit or debit card. To donate by check, make the check out to “ioby” and note in the memo line that it is for “Scout Music House.” Send the check to ioby, 540 President Street, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11215. All donors will receive a donation receipt from ioby.
ioby helps neighbors grow and implement great ideas one block at a time. Its crowd-resourcing platform connects leaders with funding and support to make neighborhoods safer, greener, more livable and more fun.
Lynne Christopher Romines is one of several who are sharing their memories of the Scout House. Here are her favorite ones:
"Oh my goodness if those walls could talk. I spent all summer every summer there. Swam from day light until 7 each night. Did water ballet, dived, played "dunk" which was flirt with boys and girls, danced my legs off in Scout House. Most all us girls got our first kiss in the cemetery next door."
The Scout House has been empty for more than four years. Athens Arts League is raising funds to renovate this iconic structure and re-purpose it into a music venue with a student music lab.
This 1930s era Scout House can become alive again so a new generation can make its own memories. Can you help us? Your donation of $10, $20, $50 or $100 will make it possible. You can make a tax-deductible donation at:
Scout House Online Donation Link
Milton Sledge joined the band at Clements High School, which encouraged him to seek music as a career. He has performed with several artists, and is the studio drummer for Garth Brooks.
Milton is a supporter of music programs for students and recently filmed a promotional video segment at the Scout House to support Athens Arts League and its efforts to provide arts and music for the community.
Here is a memory Milton shared during a Listening Lounge event at High Cotton Arts that highlights how music and art can make an impact.
Two men in a Datsun tried to use shear willpower to force the compact car up a hill on U.S. 43 in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., as they fought to overcome the static on their radio.
Driver Milton Sledge and passenger Mike Chapman knew if they could breach the hill by Crockett Hospital, the crackle of the static would transform into country music group Alabama's new song "Roll On." The duo, who met at Clements High School west of Athens, Ala., were on their way back from Nashville when they heard the DJ announce that Alabama’s new release "Roll On" was coming on next. Alas, they started downhill and lost the signal.
Once the Datsun crested the hill and the signal returned, Milton stopped the car on the highway. They had made it...not just to the top of hill...but to the burgeoning of their professional music career. Milton and Mike heard themselves playing on that recording, their music traveling the airwaves of radio.
Milton and Mike traveled their musical highway many years until Mike's death from cancer in 2016. They went on to become part of the G-Men, studio musicians for Garth Brooks, with Mike playing bass and Milton playing drums.
These are the stories that honor Limestone's musical legacy and inspire new generations of musical talent. This is why the Friends of the Scout House project matters.
Limestone County native and singer/songwriter Lillian Glanton visited our Scout House last week. Lillian is interested in assisting with programs for students and Girl Scout Troop 1922 - the troop that is helping with the renovation of this historic icon into a music venue.
Lillian, who made it to the Hollywood round of American Idol, said she would have enjoyed having a safe haven like the Scout House to take workshops, create with peers, and perform for the community. Lillian is taking entertainment courses at UNA and performing and writing in Nashville.
Girl Scouts wrote the following in thank you letters to Rep. Danny Crawford and Sen. Arthur Orr who contributed to the Scout House:
Their words are an inspiration to the Friends of the Scout House Committee. Their words remind us that we can Make Music. Make History. Make A Difference.
Rep. Danny Crawford of Athens is providing a $2,500 grant to the Friends of the Scout House Committee to go toward exterior renovations.
Thanks to his grant, the committee has now raised $26,315.
Committee members are working on a grant proposal to Dekko Foundation, and the community support, both financial and with in-kind work, gives us credibility and helps our chances.
"We appreciate Rep. Crawford recognizing the impact this project will have on Athens," said Committee Chairwoman Holly Hollman. "We are preserving an iconic site and turning an empty building into a music venue, a place that is once again a vital contributing part of our community.
The Scout House renovation project has received $1,500 from Sen. Arthur Orr through his Senate District 3 funds. The $1,500 will cover the cost of installing gutters for the entire building.
"Athens Arts League appreciates Sen. Orr's support of the arts in our community," said Arts League Executive Committee member Holly Hollman. "We have received support from a variety of organizations and individuals who see the importance of preserving this Athens icon and repurposing it into a music venue. The grant from Sen. Orr will assist us in offering a facility for students interested in music-related careers and a facility for us to offer music events in our community."
Read The News-Courier story here: www.enewscourier.com/news/local_news/legislator-gives-to-scout-house/article_e9c25d54-c95e-11e6-b5e7-2b391442c7e0.html
Work is progressing quickly on our front facade improvements. We again thank Keep America Beautiful, Lowe's and Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful for the $20,000 grant to start work on preserving the historic Scout House with plans to turn it into a music venue.
Friends of the Scout House Committee member