Done Deal: Arts council closes on TurnagePublished 5:22pm Thursday, September 26, 2013
The deal is done: Beaufort County Arts Council is the new official owner of the Turnage Theater in downtown Washington.
The theater sold for $250,000, with the down payment provided by a loan of $37,500 to BCAC from the Beaufort County Committee of 100 and a $5,000 donation from the Washington Harbor District Alliance, according to John Tate, BCAC Chairman. The rest of the purchase amount is a mortgage loan from the local First South Bank.
Tate and BCAC Executive Director Joey Toler signed the paperwork Thursday afternoon.
“It all went so quickly, and everyone was so happy — Tom Atkins (listing agent, The Rich Company), Chris Furlough (president of WHDA) — we were all happy the way things worked out. Things went so smoothly …considering the time frame,” Toler said.
“It’s a wonderful day,” Tate said. “It will completely put us in a new and exciting position physically — with its location in the heart of downtown, rather than off to the side — but more importantly, will allow us to be a much more active presenting organization. That will be a new role for us and something that we are very much looking forward to doing.”
In addition to the theater providing opportunity to present artists, Tate said the space will allow the arts council to host more events and exhibits, whereas in the past, they’ve had to work around Washington Civic Center scheduling. Now, the arts council will be renting out event space to others and based on the interest coming their way, Tate said they will likely hit the ground running.
“We’re already getting requests from different people to rent the place and to possibly put on various programs there,” Tate said. “From the look of it, the place is in such great shape, I don’t see any major impediment to doing that.”
The tentative plan is for the arts council to move into its new home by year’s end. The ideal plan is to be settled by early December, Tate said.
“If everything goes well, we’re hoping to be in in time to do holiday things. If we’re able to pull that off, we’re looking at being up and running by early December,” Tate said. “That’s really optimistic, though.”
The Turnage Theater was built in the early 20th century, and was operated as both a theater and movie house for decades before closing. A plan to restore the abandoned and dilapidated theater was recreated in 1996 and after massive restoration, the theater reopened in 2007. Financial difficulties forced the Turnage Theaters Foundation to a final curtain call in December 2012, whereupon the theater went into foreclosure. It was sold to Wells Fargo during a sale on the courthouse steps in November 2012, but hit the market again in March 2013. In August, the arts council made an official offer and it was accept earlier this month.
For Toler, the purchase of the Turnage Theater represents a new beginning for the arts council, one that will not be without a lot of effort.
“Now the work begins,” Toler said.