Kirksville Arts Association unveils new building plans on anniversary of devastating fire

With a new building comes a new name - instead of keeping the Kirksville Arts Center distinction, the structure will be called the Sue Ross Arts Center. (KTVO/Ashley Hoak)

On the night of December 2, 2016, flames shot through the roof and dozens of people gathered downtown to watch as the Kirksville Arts Center burned.

As smoke lifted from the rubble, the hearts of those that called the building home were filled with sadness.

Despite the tragedy, members of the Kirksville Arts Association made a promise to themselves and the community to rebuild and return even bigger and stronger.

Kirksville Arts Association President Linda Treasure says the Kirksville area is in need of a big thank you.

"It's really wonderful to know that people in the community care about what we do at the Kirksville Arts Association. It's very touching. For the past year really, we've had so much support from the community."

Fast forward one year, and the minds and hearts of association members are now filled with pride and excitement.

Saturday night, on the first anniversary of the fire, the group held a dinner auction and fundraiser.

The event was part of the launch of the association's capital campaign - which will help pay for the construction of a new arts center.

At the dinner, plans for the new arts building were unveiled.

Treasure says the idea was to design a building that is contemporary but will fit in nicely with the historic downtown.

"Our goal was to create a building that the entire community would be proud of, would want to use, would want to come into and would feel like this was an arts center that was for everyone."

In early October, the Kirksville City Council approved site plans that would allow the new arts center to be built on its former footprint.

Treasure adds the building will be two floors and will feature an outdoor art gallery dubbed "The Artery" which will be housed in between the arts center and Pickell Abstract Company.

The mosaic tiles that were salvaged from the former building will also be showcased on the exterior of the center.

And with a new building comes a new name - instead of keeping the Kirksville Arts Center distinction, the structure will be called the Sue Ross Arts Center.

Treasure says Sue Ross was an original arts association board member and was heavily involved with the arts community in Kirksville as a public school teacher.

"She was on our board for many years, she was president of the board and we lost her about a year ago. Her husband has graciously donated a quarter of a million dollars towards our new building, which is really making this building a real possibility."

Association members agree that although the past year has had many obstacles, it is great to see the work that has taken place to rise from the ashes.

Treasure says that on the second anniversary of the fire, she hopes construction will be underway on the new center.

"I would rather be here than standing downtown watching the building burn. It's been an amazing year. It's been quite a journey. It's been a lot of work and we still have a lot of work ahead of us because we are still going to have to do fundraising and then it will take some time to actually get the design of the building completed. So, I'm hoping that maybe a year from now, we will be able to start with the building."

For more information on how you can help with fundraising for the new building, visit the Kirksville Arts Association website or Facebook page.

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