In 1989, the former Kayton Theatre came up on the auction block, and F.C.O.A. members saw an opportunity that could not be passed up. Board Chair, Mary Ann Richardson, a member since 1960, led the decision to pursue purchasing the Kayton and turning it into their new home. In a matter of six weeks, the Board of Directors raised $15,000 through personal contacts, and armed with the money in the bank, purchased the Kayton at the tax auction.
F.C.O.A. now owned a theatre, but in what state? Dilapidated, stripped of seats and lights, and the roof falling in, the challenge facing them was enormous. Then, in 1991, providence shined on Civic through the generosity of Franklin native, Charles A. Barrow. Living in Arizona, Mr. Barrow contacted local resident, Lucille F. Hirsch, asking her advice on what worthy cause he could contribute to in his hometown. In the course of a conversation, F.C.O.A.’s theatre endeavor came up. After long discussions and plan sharing, F.C.O.A. was informed that Mr. Barrow would make a gift of 1.75 million dollars to the project.
F.C.O.A. sprung into action, hiring contractors and architects to design and build the new theatre. The Kiwanis Club of Franklin donated funds towards new seats and a new marquee. Another campaign was launched to raise the rest of the needed funds for a project totaling over two million dollars. Reconstruction began on the newly renamed Barrow-Civic Theatre in October 1992, under the supervision of Toby Saltarelli.
August 14, 1993 was a thrilling night as F.C.O.A. formally dedicated the new Barrow-Civic Theatre. With special guests Charles A. Barrow, Lucille Hirsch, and many others who contributed to their success, F.C.O.A. presented the musical 1776, celebrating the birth of a nation and the birth of a theatre.
Much fine talent has been uncovered in the area and afforded opportunities to utilize their talents, as well as learning many other aspects of theatre production under professional guidance and instruction. Many of the players double in the construction and painting of sets, handling of lighting and sound, designing and making costumes, and more. An average production involves about 50-70 people, including technical, stage and orchestra personnel.
Today, the Barrow-Civic Theatre is a premier performing arts venue
with a year-round schedule of events.