In January 1997, a local theater group receives permission to raise the funds necessary to convert a 19th century dairy barn located on the newly acquired Franklin Park property into a space to hold theatrical rehearsals and productions.
Just as the fundraising effort is about to begin, the barn burns to the ground. After the fire is extinguished, the only recognizable traces of the barn are its silo and a length of stone foundation wall.
In August 1997, a group of artists and community leaders extend their vision and commit themselves to the dream of building Loudoun's first dedicated performing and visual arts center on the site of the destroyed barn.
On Labor Day Weekend in September 1998, The Timber Framers Guild of North America, managed by the Blue Ridge Timberwrights, and thousands of volunteers raised the new barn frame in Franklin Park.
The timbers came from around the country; some were recycled from dismantled bridges. The longest timbers were found in the St. Lawrence Seaway, recycled from their original use as ‘bumpers' for logging runs decades earlier.
Over the next six years the project continued to grow, including the installation of a solar array on an adjacent hillside as well as thin film roof-top solar panels.
Completed Arts Center
On November 2, 2004, Loudoun County voters approved a bond referendum providing the funds necessary to open the Arts Center.
On February 2, 2008, after more than 10 years of dedicated effort, The Franklin Park Arts Center opened its doors to the public with a Celebration of the Arts!
The Franklin Park Arts Center's first full season began on September 5, 2008, 10 years to the day that the first timbers were raised.