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How Big Can YOU Dream?

Updated: Jun 8, 2021


Once there was a woman who loved her town and dreamed that it would be nice to teach everyone about its rich history of vaudeville, cultural arts, historic buildings and more. So, she told two friends, and together they dreamed of starting an organization to spread the word. The mission would be to preserve and celebrate St. James’ rich history and inspire an appreciation and knowledge of the arts in our community – and that is how Celebrate St. James Past-Present-Future was born.

They then told all their friends about their dream, and many joined the fledgling organization to spread the word. Their first major endeavor was a keepsake calendar featuring beautiful photographs of some of St. James’ historic buildings, thanks to Jack Ader, photographer, and earlier pictures and history, thanks to Brad Harris, Town Historian. A museum was created for the display of memorabilia from the town’s glory days, and various art gallery shows displayed the work of many talented local artists.

This passionate and talented group dreamed even bigger, and its leader wrote a musical show to tell the story of the vaudevillians and others who lived and performed here many years ago – and the townspeople filled the auditorium at Nesaquake Middle School (twice) to watch the show, “99 Minutes from Broadway,” and learn about the historic buildings and the people who once lived, worked, and performed here.

“Let’s dream bigger,” they said. And they worked with the town for the designation of the historic Lake Avenue Cultural and Arts District, and this honor was bestowed upon them on the day of the 2019 ART WALK, a day when over 50 artists and performers filled Lake Avenue with their creations to the delight of over one-thousand visitors.

Then, in the early fall, an annual Cottages to Castles Home tour was offered, giving visitors a look inside some of the most beautiful and unique homes in our area. But they knew they could dream bigger still. They planned and executed an amazing gala and hundreds of people came to help support their mission and to raise funds to build a clock tower kiosk on Lake Avenue, which was hoped to inspire local officials to help revitalize our town. And the people came and generously supported this dream – but Supervisor Wehrheim said – “Let’s dream bigger! – Let’s give this dedicated organization a place to build a park instead” – and more people will come to St. James to appreciate the history and experience our wonderful community. Now, Celebrate Park will be coming very soon, thanks to the work of a community minded organization, a dedicated and caring town government, and the people – oh yes – the people!

Let’s dream bigger! – Let’s give this dedicated organization a place to build a park instead

What will come next? Yet another dream… What if there was a local theatre and cultural arts center? What if it could become the “go to” place to bring folks together? The woman started dreaming of the small performances that would take place there, along with viewing silent films and classic movies, spaces for classrooms and meeting rooms, art and music classes, a recording studio. What if it created a place to get kids away from their computer screens and seniors away from the loneliness of isolation, and families to enjoy activities together?

That dream will be fulfilled in the coming months when Celebrate St. James plans to raise funds to purchase the former ​Vaudeville Theatre (aka former Calderone St. James movie theatre), on Second Street, and renovate it to turn a dream into reality for St. James, now and for the future. But it cannot be done without help from the people who will most benefit.

A major fundraiser for this monumental project will soon begin, as well as major grant funding. Wow – that is a BIG dream – but we will make it happen – with your help!


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