OSWEGO - The building was abandoned after WWII and stood vacant until the early ‘60s. Well so it seemed. Actually a number of squirrels, birds, and a few other four legged creatures had taken over and made it their home for a long time. It was a sad empty shell of a building. Then in 1961 the Oswego Players and the then Art Guild asked the city if they could occupy and renovate Building 30 on the Fort Ontario Complex. And the city graciously agreed.
An architect was hired to design the inside so as to accommodate a theater, an art gallery, art studio, and lobby in between. And when it came time to do the renovation, members from both groups pitched in and did most of the construction work themselves. And thus in 1964 was born the Civic Arts Center of Oswego. It now sits proudly at the corner of Barbara Donahue Drive and East Fourth Street on the Fort Ontario Complex.
Fifty-five years later, the Players continue to expand their theater arts programs, and the Art Guild is now the Art Association of Oswego and has a full agenda of activities it offers to the public. The city administration has never been more generous than this year with the installation of new heating and air conditioning units, updating the fire and security systems, and installing new fire resistant doors for the entire building. Thanks to Mayor Barlow and the Common Council, the Players and the Art Association look forward to a safer and more comfortable environment in which to expand their programs to the Oswego community.
There is a creative buzz you feel when you step inside the lobby of the Art Center and see and hear the sounds of art exploding inside this historic building. Presently, the Oswego Players’ Theater Arts Youth Academy is in full swing. 17 talented students are participating in a full range of theater arts activities every Saturday through the month of August. Director Sherri Metz has just completed casting a wonderful comedy, “I Take this Man” that has start rehearsals evenings on the Frances Marion Brown stage. With a newly painted and decorated main theater and lobby, the Oswego Players’ will be installing new curtains to the stage and is planning to replace the old seats with a new and comfy seating design.
The Art Association is not to be outdone on their end of the building as their summer and fall schedule is packed full of art activities for the whole family. Their Art with Coffee program on Saturdays is like two hours of spa time for your mind. Folks can make art and enjoy a sip of coffee in a cool environment. Like to dabble in clay? Rebecca Chatterton hosts an open pottery studio on Sundays from 1-3 p.m. And for those of you who just like to enjoy viewing art, Larry Rapshaw’s “Humonics” is on display in the Timothy McHenry Gallery upstairs, and Ellen Gerberich’s “Celestial Influences” is on display in the Jo Hyse Gallery on the main floor.
Both the Oswego Players and the Art Association invite you to come on over to the Civic Arts Center located at the northernmost end of East Fourth Street. It’s easy to find. Just head over to Fort Ontario. It’s the first red brick building on the right. And check out the websites for both organizations as their schedules of activities are jam packed and constantly updated. You’ll find them at: oswegoplayers.org and oswegoarts.org