What is the MACC?
The Mountain Arts Community Center is housed in a refurbished and repurposed historic school building owned by the Town of Signal Mountain, Tennessee (www.signalmountaintn.gov) and managed by the SME Preservation Fund (www.smepreservationfund.org). It is dedicated to visual, musical and theatre arts programs.
The MACC was created in 1999 in response to the closing of Signal Mountain Elementary School. In order to save and preserve this historic building, it was leased by the Town, and operated as the Mountain Arts Community Center (the MACC) for 10 years. In 2009, the Hamilton County Department of Education gifted the building and property to the Town. The MACC has grown into a recognized fine arts center while also hosting many community activities.
The mission of the MACC is, “to provide and facilitate artistic, cultural, civic, and educational activities that foster personal growth and benefit the community."
Since 1999, the MACC has served that mission and the Town of Signal Mountain's citizenry by providing a variety of arts related classes for both children and adults; by providing a venue for arts related performances, art exhibitions and various community activities; by serving as a meeting place for numerous community organizations; and by serving as an historic facility preserving and promoting the heritage of the Signal Mountain and Walden’s Ridge community.
The Historic Signal Mountain Grammar School was constructed in 1926 of native rock harvested from the south face of the mountain during the construction of Signal Mountain Road. This was the first building for public use in Signal Mountain and served both as the school and as a meeting space for various civic groups. The design of the original building is a unique V shape with a triple-arch entrance at the apex of the V. The arms of the V form the hallways with a 240 seat auditorium located between the two hallways and classrooms along the outside of the V. The building is one of the oldest remaining school buildings in Hamilton County still in public use.
The building operated as a public school from 1926 until 1999, when Hamilton County Department of Education scheduled it for closure. Rather than see this wonderful old building abandoned, a group of concerned citizens asked the Signal Mountain Town Council about renting the property for use as an arts center. In the fall of 1999 the Town began renting the property and the Mountain Arts Community Center was born. The rental arrangement lasted ten years, during which the MACC grew in service and importance to the community. Through the efforts of MACC’s first director, Karen Shropshire, the building was placed on the National Historic Register in 2001 and finally, in 2009 the building was gifted to the Town of Signal Mountain by the Hamilton County Department of Education.
History of the Building
Our biggest accomplishment this year has been the renovation of the theater. The floors have been repaired and refinished, new curtains have been hung on the stage, acoustic paneling has been added, and house lights have been upgraded. New windows have also been installed at the back of the theater, increasing safety and energy-efficiency while maintaining the character of the building.
Since being renovated, the theater has hosted the Signal Mountain Playhouse's production of Harvey as well as Christmas music and performances at the town's 2019 Christmas Tree Lighting festival. Most recently, it has served as a recording venue for virtual concerts of this year's Nightfall Concert Series-- You can check out some of these performances by clicking here. We have also had some of the MACC music instructors test out how the stage sounds, and they assure us that it sounds amazing!
The newly-renovated theater is ready to host many more events and performances in the future. Stay tuned for the next opportunity to come check it out!
We have an ever-growing list of plans for the future of the MACC. The long term roadmap includes regular concerts in our newly renovated theater, outdoor venues for events and live music, and a few exciting surprises. In the meantime, we are updating every single room in the building. The MACC is also becoming more energy efficient, and portable buildings are coming down to make way for more green space and parking.
In addition to renovating the physical building, this website will also be seeing some improvements along the way. We will be working on ways to make this more than just a place to get information. We are planning on adding online sign up and ticket purchasing for concerts and events, creating a page that allows for rooms to be easily rented, and making a section for videos and livestreams of MACC events.
We've made a lot of progress over the years, but we want to go so much farther. We can't wait to show you what's next at the MACC!
How You Can Help
Many of the events and renovations at the MACC are only possible through the support of the community. We are thankful for everyone who has helped out so far, but there is still much to do!
Ordinarily the halls of the MACC would be filled with volunteers helping out with renovations and events, but due to COVID-19 we are hesitant to have too many people in the building. Once things are a little more under control, we want to welcome anyone and everyone to come lend a hand. Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom on the page to stay up to date on volunteering opportunities!
Donations are a way you can help right now. Parts of this building are a century old, and it is in need of countless updates and repairs. That includes small things, like new paint and replacement lights, as well as bigger items, like new windows in many of the rooms and an overhauled heating system. Any amount donated will lead to a more modern, safe, and inviting arts and community center.