New owner hopes arts bring new life to Mayflower

TROY – When Lisa Bauer saw a “For Sale” sign in the box office window of the closed Mayflower Theater downtown, her life – and the building’s – headed in a new direction.

“I was so taken by the building. Once I came in, it was like I was blown away. My mind started going crazy with how this could be a perfect venue,” said Bauer, owner/executive director of The Mayflower Arts Center, a for-profit organization.

The Springfield resident discovered the 9 W. Main St. building during a post-lunch walk in 2011. In summer 2012, she became the owner, beginning work immediately on the building’s transformation.

An upstairs apartment has become the Artist Den featuring for sale the works of artists in areas such as painting, photograph, pottery and stained glass. There are works by local authors, wire wrapped jewelry and a special display of hand made bowls for the Artists Against Hunger, Miami County.

Downstairs is the Lobby Gallery near the box office. Among its feature is a red velvet rope that Bauer admitted was a new addition. “I went out and bought a velvet rope just because I thought a theater has to have a velvet rope,” she said.

Also on the main floor is studio space home to classes and workshops for children and adults such as the summer children’s art camp.

The Mayflower Theater building started out as one theater in the 1920s. The building at one point housed up to four theaters. Three were in place when Bauer arrived.

The main theater seating 132 will remain with plans now to use it for art series, lectures and showings of independent films or documentaries. The theater was used to show a Mumford and Sons documentary during the band’s Labor Day Weekend Stopover and more recently for a music festival fundraising concert featuring seven bands.

Plans for the two smaller theaters include removing the seats and opening a wall to create a multipurpose exhibit space. “I would love to be able to encompass all aspects of the arts: visual arts, literary arts, performing arts. That’s the big goal,” Bauer said.

She has an architecture degree, a MBA and works as a freelance graphic artist. She and husband, Todd, have two children, Olivia, 11, and Josh, 9, both who “are very creative and an inspiration for what we do here,” Bauer said.

Bauer knows there’s a lot of work ahead for the Mayflower. “She has a lot of potential. I want to make her happy again by filling her with the arts and performance and creativity,” she said.

The arts center fall hours are Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit mayflowerartscenter.com.

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