Published in Southport Magazine, April 2022 Issue
Up Your Arts Takes A Big Step Toward Repurposing Of Southport’s Old City Hall
Up Your Arts is pleased to announce it has entered into a contract with David Lisle of Lisle Architecture and Design to provide
a full range of architectural services for the “Save the Hall, Y’all” project to re-adapt Southport’s former city hall/old Brunswick
County Courthouse building on Moore Street into a state-of-the-art community-based creative and performing arts center.
Originally constructed in the mid-1800s, the building served as the county courthouse until the county seat was relocated to Bolivia in the late 1970s. The building served as Southport’s city hall from 1979 until 2014 when administrative operations were moved to the current location on Howe Street. It has been vacant for several years and is still owned by the city. Although there are significant issues with a mold infestation throughout the building, a feasibility study conducted by Up Your Arts in 2020 revealed the existing structure is reasonably suited to an adaptive re-use.
Up Your Arts was founded in 2017 to support and enhance the creative and performing arts throughout the greater Southport area. Board member John
Keiffer reports the non-profit organization is inspired by the building’s history and its standing in the community, both for its prominent downtown location and for its status as a center of municipal and civic life. Although public access to the building is currently prohibited, a full-color 3D virtual tour is available on the g roups’ website, https://upyourarts.org.
Up Your Arts began meeting with officials with the City of Southport in 2019 to discuss possible re-uses of the old city hall building. In keeping
with terms outlined in a second memorandum of understanding with the Southport Board of Aldermen in 2020, UYA board members began searching several months ago for an appropriate architectural firm.
They identified several local and established firms with expertise in commercial re-adaption of historic, civic structures. The board also sought to contract with a firm that had in-depth knowledge of Southport and its unique character and historic roots. Specific criteria considered for selecting and procuring architectural services included:
• Experience with historic/older existing structures
• Proven ability to work flexibly with a non-profit organization/municipal partner
• In-depth appreciation for community-based performing and creative arts spaces
• Ability to combine a creative design process with a cost-focused structural approach
• Ability to lead a design team that would encompass structural and mechanical engineering, acoustical engineering, architectural firm.
sound and lighting system design, historic preservation and restoration, the commercial kitchen/culinary arts components, a graphics design
component, and the selection of various types of interior furnishings.
Obtaining interviews and commitments from businesses during the ongoing pandemic proved very challenging. The UYA board was fortunate to have
spoken with several firms who met the identified criteria. Owing to David’s availability, professionalism and enthusiasm for the art center project, a decision was made to move forward with him and a formal contract was signed on February 7.
David has offices in the historic district of downtown Wilmington, as well as in Raleigh, and works in both the commercial and residential arenas. He has served as president of the Wilmington AIA and was a board member of the Historic Wilmington Foundation. Of local note, David was involved with the redesign and conversion of the old BB&T Bank building at the corner of Howe and Moore Streets into what is now the Southport Market.
Over the last 24 years, Lisle Architecture and Design has been responsible for more than 1,800 unique architectural projects and has an ongoing interest in the historic Brooklyn Arts District in downtown Wilmington, including the design of the recently opened Edward Teach Brewing Company.
Up Your Arts will continue the process of converting program ideas and visions for a community-based arts center into concrete architectural expression. Lisle Architecture and Design will assist with defining and prioritizing all aspects of program development and with evaluating
the requirements for engineering and hazardous material remediation services. The firm will then prepare a series of architectural renderings and drawings, specifications, and a proposed re-construction budget.
In order to further refine the vision and usage of the building, Up Your Arts will continue grassroots outreach efforts. This will include community-wide presentation and feedback events, social media presentations, and smaller focus and discussion groups held throughout the
area in a variety of venues and formats, and ongoing conversations with municipal leaders.
As it has since beginning the project, Up Your Arts will continue to cover all pre-construction expenses related to the proposed arts center.