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Brookhaven Trust marks 10th year, plans Old City Hall work

Ten years ago a group of dedicated citizens came together withone nearly impossible goal — to save Mary Jane LamptonAuditorium.

That cornerstone of downtown’s historic Whitworth College campuswas in a sad state of disrepair and on the verge of collapse. Thegroup decided that they would work together, raise enough money toshore up the roof and walls of the building and then work towardrepairing and restoring it. That was the birth of the BrookhavenTrust.

Now, 10 years later, after Lampton has been saved, restored toher former glory and become the crown jewel of the campus of theMississippi School for the Arts, the Trust is preparing to take onanother needy historic landmark — the Old City Hall (Chamber ofCommerce) — and the Brookhaven Trust for the Preservation ofHistory, Culture and the Arts, as it came to be called, hasbranched out to offer arts education programs in the schools,public concerts and performances and a host of other activitiesthat have benefited the community and its citizens.

“Think about what Brookhaven would be like today if the Trusthad not been formed, if Lampton had not been saved,” says TrustPresident Jimminette Phillips. “The Trust laid the foundation thatmade it possible for the School for the Arts to come here. Imaginethe economic impact of just what that has done for thecommunity.”

To help pay for this latest restoration and the various artsprograms the Trust sponsors, each year the group has hosted afund-raiser with an auction. This year, instead of a spring event,the Trust has come up with the idea to not only raise money butalso to showcase the beauty of downtown Brookhaven by having a NewYear’s Eve event called “A Night on the Town.”

“There really aren’t any New Year’s events in our area. We feltlike this was a perfect time to offer an alternative to sitting athome or driving out of town to have a New Year’s celebration.”Phillips said, adding laughingly, “Besides this is the lastopportunity people will have to make a charitable contribution forthis tax year.”

In addition to the “Night on the Town” tickets, the Trust isalso working to increase membership in the Trust. In fact, the onlyway to purchase tickets to the New Year’s event is to become amember of the Trust.

“We really haven’t been as thorough as we probably should havebeen about reminding people to renew their membership in the Trusteach year,” Phillips said. “We’ve waited for memberships to come tous, instead of reaching out for them. We want everyone on board asa member, make them a part of the Trust, and this is one way for usto accomplish that.”

“This way members are not only getting a ‘members-only’opportunity to enjoy this event, they are also supporting the Trustfinancially throughout the year.”

Tickets to “A Night on the Town” are $50 for a single or $75 fora couple, which includes either one or two tickets to the downtowncelebration and a year’s membership in the Trust. Businesses mayalso purchase memberships that include tickets for $100.Out-of-town guests may purchase tickets without becoming a memberof the Trust. Trust and Arts Council board members are now sellingtickets, or you may contact the Chamber of Commerce for ticketinformation.

A Limited number of “Old City Hall Restoration” memberships arealso being

offered.

Among the activities planned for the evening are a silentauction and exhibition of investment quality art, jazz music, foodand an al fresco breakfast after the “Homeseeker’s Paradise” signis relit at midnight.

A trolley is planned to ferry people from the various activitiesand to parking areas in the area as Whitworth Avenue, thethoroughfare that runs in front of the Old City Hall (Chamber ofCommerce) will be closed as events take place there and at theDepot. The Art Exhibition will be held in the State Room onCherokee Street.

Funds from this year’s event will not only go toward the OldCity Hall restoration project, but also fund the programs that theBrookhaven Arts

Council offers.

This year the Arts Council, which started its year with a seriesof school performances by the “Masked Messenger” to all the fifthand sixth graders in Lincoln County in September, is also planningto bring the Mississippi Symphony Chamber Orchestra, theMississippi Girls Choir, the Capital Brass, the Ole MissShowstoppers, and a theatrical presentation on the life of TeddyRoosevelt to town.

According to Arts Council president Becky Corkern, this year’sCouncil season is one of the best yet. “We’ve been wanting to bringthe Symphony to Brookhaven for several years and with this beingthe tenth anniversary of the Trust we felt like the timing wasright to make that type of commitment.”

The Symphony will be performing “Baroque by Candlelight” at 7:30p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 20, in the sanctuary of First United MethodistChurch. The performance which is being underwritten, in part, byState Bank and the Mississippi Arts Commission, is free and open tothe public.

“We want everyone to come out and hear a delightful evening ofBaroque masterpieces,” Corkern said, adding, “World-famousharpsichordists John Paul and Shawn Leopard will be joining thesymphony in several selections. We believe it is going to be theperfect way for everyone to kick-off their holiday season.”

Yuletide selections by the Mississippi Girls Choir accompaniedby the Capital Brass, will be the Arts Council’s next event at 7:30p.m., on Tuesday, Dec. 13, in the sanctuary of First BaptistChurch. This event is also free and the public is encouraged toattend.