With about 18 months remaining before the boarded-up old Hopkins Candy Factory becomes Manassas's new cultural center, a spate of unexpected donations have poured into the nonprofit Center for the Arts, including a state-of-the-art phone system and more than $64,000.
The phone system, which includes voice mail and has an estimated value of more than $5,000, was a gift from Falcon Communications Inc., a Manassas-based telecommunications company that has donated to numerous charitable organizations in the area.
"We desperately needed to upgrade our phones," said Trish Culbreth, spokeswoman for the center. "With the old ones, you couldn't tell which lines were being used and when people were on the phone. It was hard to run the place that way."
The arts center will pay only for the labor costs and the monthly telephone service.
The group also received $10,000 from the Kellar Family Foundation, a private family fund in Manassas; a corporate donation of $3,000 from Dominion Semiconductor; and $1,500 from the Atlantic Research Corp. The Merchant family in Manassas, who donated the building to the organization in late 1998, also donated $50,000 for each of the center's first four years to be used toward program development. The estimated annual budget for the center is $225,000.
"Donations like this are really going to help us get on our feet," Culbreth said. "And they demonstrate the confidence in our ability to expand and grow and become a more complete arts program for the city."
Creston M. Owen, president and chief executive of Falcon, said the phone system donation was simply a way of supporting an organization that will help transform Old Town Manassas.
"I was born and raised here, and I've seen the changes in Old Town," he said. "We're proud to be able to help."
The building, which had been a Merchant's Inc. warehouse and storage facility since 1960, was donated to the city by the Manassas company with the understanding that it would be used as a cultural venue. The building is a significant component of Manassas's ambitious City Square project, which will link the arts center, an outdoor pavilion and an ice rink with a walkway along the railroad tracks in Old Town.
Culbreth said renovations on the building will begin soon.