Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts celebrates 70 years in 2018

FRANKFORT — Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts, formerly Crystal Lake Art Center, was established in a former stable on Sutter Road in 1948. Now the center is celebrating 70 years, housed at a new location.

The original building was leveled by fire in 1957, and a new building was erected on the same site, where classes and programs resumed under the direction of Elizabeth Lane Oliver, wife of Paul Oliver, after whom the local hospital is named.

Following Mrs. Oliver’s death, however, the center went into a decline and ceased operations in the mid ’70s.

In 1981, a movement began that revived the Crystal Lake Art Center, and within a matter of months the project attracted new leadership and received enough contributions from the community to reopen. It became a hub for art classes, lectures and local studio tours.

In 1986, the art center merged with the Benzie Area Arts Council, a step that brought the county’s two major arts groups into a single organization.

By 1999, the art center sought a larger home, which it found in the former Napa Auto Parts Store on 10th Street. The art center rapidly expanded its offerings and enjoyed a surge in class and program offerings matched only by an increase in students, members and visitors.

To accommodate its growth, discussions began regarding the remodeling of the 10th Street facility. Quickly, however, it was realized that the cost of this renovation would produce only marginal improvements.

While the board made plans for a completely new building, the City of Frankfort made an unexpected and fateful proposal. The board proposed the former United States Coast Guard Station Frankfort for consideration.

The decision to fully renovate the Coast Guard station for use by the art center brought together a landmark of the region’s history, with the centerpiece of its local arts and culture.

Completion of the project required collaboration between the art center’s board of directors and community supporters, Quinn Evans Architects, Frankfort’s City Council, State Historic Preservation Office, National Parks System and others.

At nearly 10,000 square feet, the former Coast Guard facility provides ample space for two galleries, four classrooms, a clay and sculpture studio, administrative offices and a gift gallery. A well-equipped kitchen on site of the original galley supports a vibrant culinary arts program and offers space for private events.

The fully renovated and re-purposed Coast Guard Station was awarded a “Platinum” rating, the highest “green” certificate available, by the United States Green Building Council’s LEED initiative in 2012. It also received the Building Award from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network in 2014.

The art center would not be what it is today without the support of Dr. Elizabeth Hosick, who named the art center in honor of her beloved grandmother. Hundreds of dedicated local supporters, as well as state, federal and private foundation support ensured the renovation, at a cost of $3.4 million dollars, was a success.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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