Fiske Offically Named To National Registry of Historic Places

Fiske Offically Named To National Registry of Historic Places

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The West Carroll Chamber of Commerce and Holland Entertainment LLC of Oak Grove, La. were informed Thursday afternoon by the United States Parks Service that the Fiske Theatre has been approved and is now officially listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

“It is my honor not only the be the United States Representative but also a native of West Carroll to see the theatre I attended as a child be restored to such a stature that it has been over the last few years to be now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.” Congressman Vance McAllister said. “I commend Adam Holland for his leadership and all other community leaders that have contributed not only to restoring it to such prestige to be recognized, but also to what it has given back to a community that works so hard to maintain Louisiana’s core values that I am proud to call my hometown and birthplace.”

Congressman McAllister and Senator David Vitter both wrote letters of support to the National Parks Service on the theatre’s behalf supporting its listing on the National Registry.

“Words cannot express how big of an honor this is not just for the theatre, but for the Town of Oak Grove, our citizens and all of West Carroll Parish.” Adam Holland, W.C. Chamber Director of Special Events, and President of Holland Entertainment said. “This listing brings with it much distinction and prestige for the theatre and the town, as well as, the possibility for grants to preserve the building for our posterity.”

The Fiske is the first building in the City of Oak Grove to be listed on the National Registry. There are other buildings in town that may qualify for listing including the Legion Hut, OGHS Old Gym, and both the First Baptist and United Methodist Church to name a few.

“We are proud of Adam for all he has put into bringing the theatre back to her prime and this listing is just one more testament to the work he has done and the support that we as a chamber have received from countless people to make restoring the theatre possible.” W.C. Chamber President John Elliott said. “By having the theatre now officially listed on the National Registry we as a Chamber and the City can capitalize on this distinction and the theatre can become even more of an economic engine for our town than she already is by drawing tourist who travel the country side visiting historic places.”

The process of having the theatre listed on the National Registry began when the Chamber received the Tulane School of Architecture’s Dean’s Fund for Excellence grant in April of 2013 which funded a group of students and professors to travel to Oak Grove and study the architecture and cultural impact the theatre has had on Northeast Louisiana. The students published a book and used that information throughout the application process. Adam Holland, Doug and Rita Ainsworth along with Donald B. Fiske Jr. then represented the theatre at the November hearing of the Louisiana Historic Registry Commission where they voted unanimously to forward the nomination on the NPS.

“I’m very proud of the Fiske Theatre and the entire Oak Grove community for receiving this recognition. It’s a great tribute to Mr. Donald Fiske and all of the local leaders who have worked so hard to restore, update, and maintain such an iconic structure, and I’m pleased that it will be enjoyed for generations to come,” Senator Vitter said.

The current Fiske Theatre was built in 1950 featuring the Ultra-Moderne Art Deco style that was prevalent in movie theater construction of the time. It was designed by the late B.W. Stevens who also designed the Joy Theatre on Canal Street in New Orleans which is an almost replica of the Fiske. In 1951 it was named “The Most Modern and Well Equipped Theatre” in the United States that was constructed in 1950 by the Motion Picture Exhibitors Catalog.

The Fiske Theatre was donated to the West Carroll Chamber of Commerce in 1988 by its founder Donald B. Fiske and is currently operated by Holland Entertainment LLC. The Fiske is open each Thursday-Sunday showing a different first-run film each week.

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Fiske Gets Nomination From State Now on to NPS for Final Approval for Registry

Fiske Gets Nomination From State Now on to NPS for Final Approval for Registry

(Photo Caption: Left to Right: W.C. Chamber President H. Doug Ainsworth, Tulane School of Architecture Professor Dr. Andrew Liles, Donald B. Fiske Jr. and Adam T. Holland, Presient of Holland Entertainment at the Nov. 21 Louisiana State National Registry Review Board Hearing in Baton Rouge, La.)

BATON ROUGE, La. — Oak Grove’s own Fiske Theatre was approved in a unanimous decision for nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places, November 21 by the Louisiana State National Registry Review Board and is now waiting for notification from the United States National Park Service for final approval and listing to the National Registry.

“This is huge not only for the theatre, but for the Town of Oak Grove and everyone in West Carroll Parish,” Adam T. Holland, President of Holland Entertainment who operates the theatre for the W.C. Chamber said. “Being included on this list brings with it much prestige for the theatre and our town, along with possible grants for Historic Preservation.”

Holland was accompanied to the hearing in Baton Rouge, La. by Donald B. Fiske Jr., Chamber President H. Doug Ainsworth, Chamber Director Rita Ainsworth along with Dr. Andrew Liles and Gabrielle Begue from the Tulane School of Architecture at the hearing on Thursday.

He presented to the review board a presentation entitled “The Fiske Theatre: ‘The Anchor Holds’,” which gave a brief history of the theatre, its architecture features and its story of overcoming the odds to become once again the No. 1 Independent Movie Theatre in North Louisiana.

“In 1988 Mr. Donald Fiske entrusted the chamber with the theatre so it would be preserved for our posterity,” Chamber President H. Doug Ainsworth said. “By getting it on the registry not only will it bring his pride and joy the national prestige it deserves for its architectural and cultural contributions to West Carroll Parish and the industry, but this will protect its integrity for the generations that will follow us.”

The Fiske Theatre is being nominated on the criteria of its Architectural Contributions to Mid-Century Theatre Construction and the historical cultural impact it has had for the citizens of Northeast Louisiana and Southeast Arkansas.

The Fiske Theatre was designed by the late B. W. Stevens of New Orleans and was named the “Most Modern and Well Equipped Theater” constructed in the nation in 1950 by the Motion Picture Theatre Exhibitors Catalog. The Fiske and her almost twin The Joy on Canal Street in New Orleans are the only two remaining theatres still in operation that were designed by Stevens. Though in a state of unrepair you can also see resemblances of Mr. Stevens work and the Fiske Theatre in the Joy theatre on US 80 in Rayville.

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Tulane and Chamber Donate Fiske Theatre History Book to W.C. Library

Tulane and Chamber Donate Fiske Theatre History Book to W.C. Library

OAK GROVE — The West Carroll Chamber of Commerce and the Tulane School of Architecture recently donated two copies of the book “The Fiske Theatre: A Case Study for the Preservation of Mid-Century Theaters in North Louisiana” to the West Carroll Parish Library in Oak Grove, La. in order for them to be available to the public for years to come.

A team of four students and two professors from the Tulane School of Architecture in New Orleans spent a weekend in Oak Grove this past April studying the theatre from the roof to the basement while at the same time interviewing local citizens who had memories of the theatre and going through the Fiske Family archives that are stored at the theatre and records at the Clerk of Courts office to compile this very in-depth book.

“This is something we as the W.C. Chamber wanted to do from the time we found out the depth of the project that Tulane was conducting at the theatre.” W.C. Chamber Special Events and Historic Preservation Coordinator Adam Holland said. “By donating these two copies to the library they will not only be available for the public today but for our posterity in years to come.”

The book takes an in-depth look at the history of Carroll Parish, the theatre and goes into details of the impressive architecture and the role it played in theatre construction throughout the Mid-Twentieth Century.

“We as citizens of Northeast Louisiana take for granted how important our theatre was and is,” Holland said. “When the ‘New Fiske Theatre’ was built in 1950 she was the model for theatre construction of her day with all of bells and whistles movie goers could only imagine being able to enjoy.”

The Fiske Theatre which was designed by Architect B.W. Stevens of New Orleans won the “Merit Award” from the 1951 Motion Picture Exhibitors Catalog for being the most modern and well equipped theatre constructed in the nation in 1950. B.W. Stevens also designed the Joy Theatre located on Canal Street in New Orleans which is an almost twin to Oak Grove’s Fiske.

The Fiske is on the agenda for the November 21 hearing of the Louisiana Historic Preservation Board’s meeting to be considered for nomination to the Nation Registry of Historic Places which will put her in the same league as such structures as The Myrtle Plantation in St. Francisville, Bedienhorn Gardens in Monroe, and the Old State Capital Building in Baton Rouge

The chamber also has copies of the book available for $20 by calling the chamber office at 318-428-8283 or by sending an email to westcarrollchamber@gmail.com.

The funding for the study conducted by Tulane was provided by the Tulane School of Architecture Fund for Excellence Grant in 2013.

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Baton Rouge Hearing Slated for Fiske Theatre’s Inclusion on National Historic Registry

Baton Rouge Hearing Slated for Fiske Theatre’s Inclusion on National Historic Registry

BATON ROUGE, La. — The West Carroll Chamber of Commerce and Holland Entertainment LLC which operates the Fiske Theatre in Oak Grove, La. were recently informed by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Louisiana that a hearing will be held Thursday, November 21, 2013 at the State Capitol where the Fiske Theatre will be considered for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

“This is the culmination of six years of hard work, by everyone that has been involved with the rebirth of the theatre.” Adam Holland, President of Holland Entertainment who operates the theatre said. “In 2007 when I was asked to serve as the chairman of the West Carroll Chamber’s Theatre Committee, I could see the potential for the theatre, but in no way knew she would grow to once again be one of the most respected and most attended independent movie theaters in North Louisiana.”

The current Fiske Theatre was built in 1950 by the late Donald B. Fiske of Oak Grove, La. and was designed by Architect B.W. Stevens of New Orleans in the Streamline Ultra-Moderne Art Deco style that was prevalent in movie theatre architecture of the day. In 1951 it was awarded the prestigious “Bronze Merritt Award” by the Exhibitors Theatre Catalog as being the most modern and well equipped theatre built in 1950.

“We thank Adam Holland for his leadership and commitment to preserving the theatre and his vision to bring her back as the primary entertainment hub for our community,” W.C. Chamber President H. Doug Ainsworth said. “We also thank the theatre committee and the countless volunteers and donors who made restoration of the theatre complete last summer and fall.”

Oak Grove’s Fiske Theatre is one of two remaining theatre’s in Louisiana that bear the undeniable mark of Architect B.W. Stevens, the other is the Joy Theatre on Canal Street in New Orleans which was restored and reopened in December of 2011 after it sustained major damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

The Fiske’s nomination to the National Register would not have been possible without a grant from the Tulane School of Architecture that funded a team of four students and two professors to come to Oak Grove and study the Fiske this past April. Their findings and research, which will be made available to the public soon, were used in the application process. Gabrielle Begue who was a Master of Preservation Studies student in spring helped compile and edit the information included in the application to the Lt. Governor’s office.

“We are crossing our fingers and feel confident that we will get the nomination from the Louisiana State Review Committee to be included on the National Register,” Holland said. “Once this happens it will bring much more prestige to what we already know is a treasured part of our region’s history and also help attract more people to our town that travel the countryside visiting historic places thus the theater will further enhance the economy of our town and parish.”

The Fiske Theatre was donated to the West Carroll Chamber of Commerce by the late Donald B. Fiske shortly prior to his death and is operated by Holland Entertainment LLC of Oak Grove, La.

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Ribbon Cutting Midsouth Medical Equipment

Ribbon Cutting Midsouth Medical Equipment

West Carroll Chamber hosts Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Midsouth Medical Equipment celebrating their new location August 22, 2013

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WCNB Clock Restoration Progress Continues

Photo Caption: Chamber Special Events and Preservation Coordinator Adam Holland and Ken Mobley discuss status of progress on WCNB Clock restoration at Ken's Kustoms Body Shop in Oak Grove.  The Chamber hopes to transport the clock to Carter Signs in Bastrop, La. in the coming weeks to finish its restoration.

Photo Caption: Chamber Special Events and Preservation Coordinator Adam Holland and Ken Mobley discuss status of progress on WCNB Clock restoration at Ken’s Kustoms Body Shop in Oak Grove. The Chamber hopes to transport the clock to Carter Signs in Bastrop, La. in the coming weeks to finish its restoration.

OAK GROVE — Many have noticed the void that has been left at the corner of Briggs and Main since mid-May when one of Oak Grove’s most treasured icons came down from her perch, but that void will be gone soon as progress continues on the restoration of the West Carroll National Bank Clock that hung high on its corner perch for most of the 20th Century.

“We want to get this right,” Ken Mobley said. “This clock is a big part of the historic appearance of Oak Grove and we hope that what we are doing now will preserve it for many generations to come.”

Originally the goal was to have the clock finished and back on its perch by the July 4th Holiday, however once the project actually began, it was soon realized that the clock’s finish was done with porcelain which required much study , research and consultation with professionals around the country to insure what was being done was correct.

“This is a very important piece of our collective history,” W.C. Chamber Special Events and Preservation Coordinator Adam Holland said.  “Our downtown is the heart of our city and preserving its historic character for our posterity is essential for the continued economic well-being of our community.”

Ken’s Kustoms of Oak Grove are in the final stages of restoring the physical integrity of the clock along with restoring its finish and soon it will be transported to Carter Signs in Bastrop, La. where the all of the neon and mechanical motors which keep the time will be completely replaced.  Carter Signs will then bring her home and return it to its perch where she will proudly return to her roll as the official time keeper for the town of Oak Grove.

“We would like to express our most sincere appreciation to Ken Mobley and his staff for the work they have done pro-Grata as a community service.” Holland said.  “What began as something we thought would be a quick and easy job has turned into a project on his part and words cannot express our appreciation to he and his staff.”

Funding for the restoration has been made possible by the Chamber’s Festival Fund.

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West Carroll Police Jury Ribbon Cutting

West Carroll Police Jury Ribbon Cutting

The Ribbon cutting for the new West Carroll Police Jury building was held Friday afternoon, June 28, 2013. The new building is an asset to the community and to the development of downtown Oak Grove. We welcome this new facility to our community. Thanks to all who participated making this event a success. Also, thank you to all our Police Jury members for all you do for our community.

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Swamp Coffee Ribbon Cutting

Swamp Coffee Ribbon Cutting

West Carroll Chamber welcomes Swamp Coffee to the community with Ribbon Cutting Friday June 21, 2013. The event though hosted by the West Carroll Chamber, family and friends helped celebrate the opening of this new business. Charlie May, owner of Swamp Coffee, offers a variety of specialty coffees and teas to fit a variety of tastes. Be sure to drive buy and place your order. Swamp Coffee is located on the Mac’s Fresh Foods parking lot.

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Wal Mart Funds ADA Hearing for Fiske

Wal Mart Funds ADA Hearing for Fiske

OAK GROVE — If not being able to hear or see clearly has been your reason you have not been getting out of the house and enjoy movies at the Fiske Theatre in Oak Grove, that is no longer and excuse, as the Oak Grove Wal Mart and Manager John Wimsatt have funded the installation of the most advanced hearing and visual assistance system that is currently being deployed in cinemas across the nation.

“It has always been part of Wal Mart’s mission to give back to the community,” Wimsatt said. “This is just one small way we could make an impact in our community and one that the people could actually see and feel.”

The Ultra Phonic Visual and Assistive Listening System will allow those with hearing impairments to control their own volume by the use of headsets, the same headsets will also provide visual narrative for those with sight impairments by just changing the channel on the set. The headsets will be available free of charge by request at the concession stand.

“We are very grateful for what Wal Mart has done for the theatre and local movie goers.” Adam Holland, President of Holland Entertainment said. “I personally know of three people who enjoy coming to the movies and choose to sit in the cry room so they can control their own volume and one person who enjoys coming to the movies but cannot see that this new system will benefit.”

The assistive listening system was funded by a $1,500 grant from the Wal Mart Foundation to the West Carroll Chamber of Commerce who owns the theatre.

“Doyle Rowland, Fiske Theatre Technician, is in the process of installing the system now. As of today the Assisted Hearing portion of the system is working properly, we expect the visual narrative to be working by the end of the week.” Holland said.

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Chamber Donates Picnic Tables to Police Jury for Courthouse Lawn

Chamber Donates Picnic Tables to Police Jury for Courthouse Lawn

OAK GROVE, La. — The West Carroll Chamber of Commerce recently donated four picnic tables to the West Carroll Parish Police Jury for the Courthouse Yard that it purchased from the Oak Grove FFA.

“During the North Louisiana Sweet Potato Festival this year we borrowed four picnic tables from the City Park for revelers to be able to sit down and enjoy their meals and relax while the kids enjoyed the entertainment on the square,” W.C. Chamber Special Projects Coordinator Adam Holland said. “We saw how popular this addition was to the festival and decided it would be a good idea to purchase tables for the square that could be used for all festivals, and for the Court House Staff and those who do business with the Court House during the year.”

The four tables are made from treated pine and were left natural so they could age with nature and fit into the landscape of the Court House Square which is lined with century old Live Oak Trees.

“Adam contacted me about the possibility of donating the tables to the jury,” W.C. Police Jury President Jack Madden said. “The jury and I felt as if it would be a nice addition to our grounds and would be an asset to the people who work at the Court House to be able to have lunch and get fresh air on pretty days, as well as, a place for those doing business with the Court to be able to get fresh air during breaks without blocking the entrance to the Court House.”

The tables are not anchored down so they can be moved to different areas of the grounds during festival and other events that take place at the Court House.

“With all the help and inconvenience that the workers at the Court House have to go through when we host a festival, this is just one small way we can say thanks. “ Holland said.

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