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History

CST002 HistoryThe Court Square Theater was once the home of the Rockingham Motor Company (RMC), but in 1998, the RMC was renovated into a theater as part of the Harrisonburg downtown revitalization effort. The architects that renovated the space wanted to retain some of the historic charm and you can still find RMC’s name and iconic shields on the exterior and the interior of the building today. In 2000 a group of local citizens who long dreamed of bolstering the arts within the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County communities, came together on the Court Square Theater stage to form the non-profit organization now known as the Arts Council of the Valley. The Arts Council members were charged with managing the theater as its performing arts branch and creating innovative partnerships in the arts amongst area civic organizations, businesses, schools, and certainly, artists.

2005: In an effort to save a historic home known as “The Smith House” (ca. 1867) from demolition, the Daily News-Record gifts the house to the Arts Council of the Valley. The Arts Council’s Board of Directors and community leaders quickly rally to support an ambitious capital campaign to move the house from Liberty Street to Main Street and renovate its interior.

2006: The renovated Smith House opens its doors at 311 S. Main to house the administrative offices for the Arts Council and its Court Square Theater staff.

2007: With the support of local business owner, James McHone, ACV is able to make final renovations to Smith House, resulting in the Darrin-McHone Fine Art Gallery. This gallery allows the organization to display monthly exhibitions focused on local artists.

Today the Arts Council has grown into a multi-faceted community resource that offers Advancing the Arts grants to artists and art educators, coordinates Harrisonburg’s First Fridays events, produces the Art in the Park program for families, runs a creative theater space for performing arts, and houses monthly exhibitions in its Darrin-McHone Gallery. As a community resource, the Arts Council Staff and Board welcome feedback and your ideas for programming and partnership. Please feel free to call or email with ways that we can better support you and the arts in our community!

41-F Court Square, Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540.433.9189