SRAC unveils new home and center for Shreveport art community

SRAC unveils new home and center for Shreveport art community
Published: Aug. 23, 2012 at 10:20 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2012 at 10:44 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The future home for the Shreveport Regional Arts Council will soon be ready and open for artists in the community. What used to be the Central Fire Station in downtown Shreveport is now going to be the center, or the heartbeat, of the art district in Shreveport.

The majority of the inside of the newly renovated historic building is going to be dedicated to community arts. The old engine room is now a multi-use facility. It will house artist galleries, arts business resource centers, rehearsals and production setups.

Last year the construction crew broke ground on the $4.5-million renovation. Now it is almost finished.

"From the fire to the fire station; that became our mantra. It became the vision for this exciting opportunity, and of course, it became our marching orders," said Pam Atchison with the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.

A devastating fire, the work of an arsonist in 2009, was a huge setback for the SRAC, but their story didn't end there. The Shreveport Fire Department did more than just put out the flames, they donated a building. Soon, the historic Central Fire Station, built back in the 1920's, will be the new home for SRAC.

After the fire Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover promised that the city would find the person responsible. The man accused of burning down the old SRAC building, Gary Vinson, is now serving a 40-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced last November. Accused of setting several cars and buildings on fire in Shreveport back in 2009, Vinson was sentenced to 40 years for nine counts of simple arson, two counts of aggravated arson, and one count of arson of a religious building.

Coming full circle on Thursday, Glover took KSLA News 12 on a tour of the new and improved Central Art Station. With our cameras rolling, and a group of people following, Glover pointed out the design features that have changed and the historic architecture that stayed the same.

"It's a stem-to-stern preservation. The roof is the exact tile that was in year 1922. The tile glass mosaic has all been cleaned, refurbished or rebuilt, So, it's a true historic restoration," said Atchison.

For 24 years Chief Dallas Green was the man who led the firefighters who worked at the Central station. The former Shreveport fire chief told KSLA News 12 that the renovations he saw on Thursday reignited some good memories.

"Seventy years ago, on April 5, I walked through that front door to go to work. And, it was a beautiful building at the time. And they've restored it just exactly like it was at that time," Green said.

Out of the $6.5-million SRAC has raised for renovations to their new building and other projects in Shreveport, only $1.5-million has come from the city, state, and parish governments. The remaining $5-million came from private donors.

SRAC anticipates opening their doors this fall.

Copyright 2012 KSLA. All rights reserved.