LAKEWOOD, Ohio – Lakewood’s West End is bustling these days with ongoing renovations and upgrades at the Beck Center for the Arts.
And those walking or driving along Detroit Avenue near West Clifton Boulevard may have noticed the sign in the storefront of 18103 Detroit advertising a new location for Gray House Pies.
These two projects are good news for the city.
Beck Center, a long-standing cultural arts center dates back to 1931. Since 1938, it has occupied the corner of Wayne and Detroit avenues. Over the years, its footprint has expanded to include the entire block and even the old Lakewood Armory building across the parking lot.
It all started as “The Guild of the Masques,” a Depression-era Lakewood Junior Chamber of Commerce project. In less than two years, the group was formed as Lakewood Little Theatre. As the band grew, they needed more space and a permanent home, which they found at the former Lucier Cinema, 17823 Detroit Ave.
During the Depression, the theater troupe raised $10,000 to remodel the theater for live performances. It could accommodate 466 people and became the first permanent home for LLT.
The property was purchased in 1947 and has since been part of the Beck Center complex.
At first, courses were offered in voice, diction, pantomime, production of plays and stage design. In 1948 the Lakewood Little Theater School was founded and over the years adjacent properties were purchased to accommodate the growing arts education programs.
The next big development was a major gift received from Kenneth Beck in 1972 which helped build a multipurpose facility for the performing and visual arts. A fundraising campaign that year raised $600,000, which was matched by Beck, a businessman.
The land was laid for Lakewood Little Theatre/Kenneth C. Beck Center for the Cultural Arts in December 1975. The new 42,000 square foot facility opened in 1976 with a 500-seat auditorium, museum, entertainment space exhibition, a general office and changing rooms.
Programs offered included adult drama, dance, arts and crafts and shows for children/teens, Galleria (museum) and a series of special events/performing arts which included performance companies. touring dance and special concerts.
In 1979, the National Guard Armory was purchased, and renovation of the original theater to a studio theater took place in 1984.
Additional improvements included raising the theater to professional status, which meant paying actors and having access to more current theatrical material. As of 2018, Beck has been recognized by the Actors’ Equity Association as a Small Professional Theatre.
Although Beck flirted with the idea of moving to another town, studies determined that his location in Lakewood was ideal, so the council re-engaged at the original site which now encompasses 31/2 acres. .
Once again, Beck is involved in a fundraising campaign that is coming to an end.
As part of the $5.7 million Raise the Roof campaign, Beck is updating, renovating and improving its facilities. The first phase, which began during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, involved upgrading the ceramics lab and dance studio, upgrading restrooms, and making the building accessible to people with disabilities.
More recently, the Rockway and Detroit Avenues Annex was demolished to create green spaces. The facade of the building will benefit from a facelift which will make it more accessible and visible. Plans also call for raising the roof – literally – by five feet and adding larger windows on the second floor.
For more information about the current project or to donate, visit beckcenter.org.
Pie, please: Soon, pie lovers will have a new specialty shop to visit. Gray House Pies, currently operating at 26075 Detroit Road, Westlake, plans to open a storefront at 18103 Detroit Ave., Lakewood.
The shop offers a wide variety of fruit, cream and specialty pies ranging in price from $13 to $22. Customers can also purchase cookies, pub pies, hand quiches or a slice of pizza with a hand pie.
No word yet on when the new site will open.
Visit grayhousepies.com for menu, ordering information and more.
Craft fair: The United Methodist Women of the United Methodist Church of North Olmsted United Methodist Church will hold a Church Mouse Craft Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on October 15 at the church, 4600 Dover Center Road, North Olmsted .
There will be a variety of crafts by local artisans. Lunch items and bake sale will be available. Proceeds from the craft show will be donated to local charities.
Hazardous waste, shredding: Fairview Park held a household hazardous waste collection and shredding day on Sept. 17, when 3,877 pounds of hazardous waste was collected, according to the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District. The Young Marines helped with the collection.
For those curious about what the Solid Waste District collected last year, its Annual Report and Residential Recycling Report were recently released. Visit cuyahogarecycles.org to view the report.
Do you have propane you need to dispose of? The Solid Waste District will be hosting an amnesty recycling event for small propane tanks from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. October 24-28 at their facility, 4750 E 131st St., Garfield Heights.
Small propane tanks including camp stoves, lanterns or torches (usually 2 pounds or less) will be accepted. County residents can bring these small tanks during this time and ring the doorbell for assistance.
Company tanks, grill tanks, helium tanks, oxygen cylinders, welding tanks, refrigerant cylinders and the like will not be accepted. Visit cuyahogarecycles.org and clock on “propane tanks” for more information on disposing of these tanks.
Halloween cookies: Angels on the Avenue hosts its annual Halloween cookie sale fundraiser to benefit the St. Augustine Departments of Health Residents’ Exit Fund.
Cookie orders are accepted until October 19. Orders can be picked up/delivered on October 27=-28. Orders can be placed for pumpkins, skulls, fall leaves, smiling aces, ghosts, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal, raisin and peanut butter cookies created by Avenue Fine Pastries.
Contact Joe Daily, [email protected] or call 216-701-3143 for more information or to order.
Waste, treasures and products: There will be a Summer Farmer’s Market and Trash and Treasure Sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday in October at the Frostville Museum Complex, 24101 Cedar Point Road, North Olmsted.
Local farmers, seasonal products, farmhouse meats, pastries, eggs, honey, maple syrup, tea and coffee, artisan breads, garden plants and more.
Those who want to donate items for the Trash and Treasure Sale should call Bob Lamb, 440-292-7822.
Access to Frostville is via Columbia Road to Cedar Point Road or Lewis Road.
For more market information, contact Angie Obbish, Market Manager, at 330-592-6518. olmstedhistoricalsociety.org.
Information, please: Readers are invited to share information about themselves, their families and friends, organizations, religious events, etc. at Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted and West Park for the A Place in the Sun column, which I write as a freelancer. Awards, honors, milestone anniversaries or birthdays and other items are welcome. Submit information at least 10 days before the requested publication date to [email protected]
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