Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 23, 2010

Brick by brick

Workers installing commemorative bricks at Firehouse Arts Center

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

A contractor has started laying commemorative bricks at the Firehouse Arts Center, which will open in September.

The bricks are being sold to help finance the transformation of the historic fire station into a state-of-the-art 240-seat studio theater with 2,000 square feet of gallery space. The center will also have room for classes, receptions and events.

Construction of the center began in July 2008, and the grand opening is Sept. 17.

"We've sold 570 bricks to date," said campaign director Debbie Look.

At $150 each, that adds up to $85,500.

"They're almost entirely community members," Look added, "families buying them to show their family's support for the project. Or in memory of a loved one."

Members of groups also chip in to memorialize themselves, she said, including one bunko group in Pleasanton.

Sales may continue through the summer, said Look, noting, "We don't have a specific upper limit at this point."

However, all of the bricks will be in place by the opening.

Tickets for the Firehouse Arts Center Opening Night Gala are also selling well, even though the invitations just went out last week, said Look. Three hundred tickets are being sold at $125 per person, and about 230 are gone.

"It just shows how excited people are to finally see the project coming to fruition," Look said.

The event will feature a variety of live entertainment, with a show in the theater, performances on the patio and in the classrooms, and a Pleasanton Art League show in the gallery. It will also have food and wine pairings.

The next day, the city is holding a free open house for the public, with plays and music.

"I think everyone is town is really excited about the opening," said Look.

The new arts center will include portions of the original historic brick building on Railroad Avenue. At one time it housed the old Pleasanton Fire Department headquarters as well as Fire Stations No. 1 and No. 4.

The Firehouse Arts Center has been planned for years by the city and its nonprofit partner, the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Foundation. The final cost of the project is expected to exceed $10 million. The city has paid $8 million of the cost, and extensive fundraising is still ongoing by the foundation for the other costs.

To purchase a brick, for $150, go to pleasantonartsfoundation.org.

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