Prescott Elks Building Is Reborn as Performing Arts Center

Courtesy of Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center. See more photos at the end of this article.

Thanks to long-awaited renovations and a total remodel, a historic building in downtown Prescott has a new purpose.

The Elks Performing Arts Center of Prescott opened its doors to the public in January of this year. The building, originally constructed in the late 1800s, is located in the heart of downtown Prescott, on the corner of Gurley and Marina streets. In 1905, the second and third floors of the building were added and were home to Elks Lodge No. 330.

The building was eventually bought by the city of Prescott and rented out as office space for attorneys. In 2012, it was purchased by a private party and given to the nonprofit Elks Performing Arts Center, and construction on what would become the new arts center began.

Frank DeGrazia, the principal architect of the renovation, said he, the contractors and the nonprofit organization wanted to return the structure to its original look while also updating it. When the second and third floors of the building were occupied by attorneys’ offices, the beautiful 14-foot-tall curved ceilings were hidden, and the original wood flooring had been covered several times.

“It’s interesting to see what was there, and to be able to hopefully bring that back,” DeGrazia said. “When people come into the building, they have that kind of enjoyment.”

Barbara Taylor, 78, has been a secretary at the Elks Lodge of Prescott Valley for three years, but her connection to the building and the Elks runs deep — her mother and father were heavily involved in the Prescott branch of the Elks when she was a young girl in the late 1940s. Taylor, who has lived in Prescott all her life, said her mother was the president of the Elks Ladies — as was Taylor, four times in the 1960s.

“My dad joined the Elks when it was downtown in 1948, and mom joined the Elks Ladies in 1949,” Taylor said. “I was the only brat, and they didn’t want to leave me at home, so I would go down and decorate the lodge.”

Taylor said she remembers spending time in the nearby theater and then climbing the three stories to find her father.

“I used to get out of the theater, and if I went upstairs for my dad, I’d take the elevator up to the second floor, walk way in the back in the dark to find the stairs, walk up to the third floor — which came out in the kitchen — and find my dad,” she said.

According to Steven Kartstein, the marketing and program manager of the Prescott Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center, the building now features several large dance halls on the second floor. They’re designed for practicing various styles of dance, including contemporary, ballet, tap, clogging and Irish. The second floor also features music isolation booths for vocal practice and recording. The third floor has two event halls that can hold a total of about 200 people. The first floor of the building is occupied by three retail businesses.

“There was a lot of pent-up demand because the remodel had been going on for five years,” Kartstein said. “Everyone was thrilled to get in here and see what we had done. Anybody that comes in here is just wowed by the remodel and how much we’ve done and how we are partnering with the community.”

The organization aims to promote and support the teaching of the performing arts in the Prescott area, Kartstein said. The nonprofit has started raising money to award scholarships to students who have declared a major in the performing arts, in honor of late benefactor Ann Dater.

For more about the arts center, or to donate to support it, visit the Prescott Elks Theatre website.

— Emily Balli

Add new comment