What happened? We all heard about Charles Lewis buying the old Masonic Hall on N. Commercial in 2003 to expand his super-successful Ethos Music Center and provide a springboard into youth music.

Budget-watchers at the PTA must have cackled. 1. Shuttered for 20+ years, that building is a disaster – getting it off the PPS books for $320,000 seemed a windfall; 2. Ironic a youth-performing arts NPO should settle across the street from Jefferson High School, the former performing arts magnet school which booted Mary Folberg and many other great arts teachers (Folberg went on to found Northwest Academy, another NPO suited up to serve those kids who gotta to dance).

But with finished renovation of the North Portland Library (a busy + nestled Carnegie with a very nice auditorium upstairs which comfortably seats 100), PCC Sylvania construction settling down, and now McMenamin’s rehabbing the funeral home next door – Charles Lewis looks like an urban pioneer. (There is a secret celebrity living just a block away too – the Doyen of dirt herself!

According to last week’s Oregonian, Doug Stamm of Meyer Memorial Trust has loaned Lewis a million dollars to get started on construction. Stand up guy, Doug.

Meyer Memorial Trust – over half a billion dollars sitting in the bank (now I understand the purpose of tax dodges, but MMT is supposed to be a public benefit; prove it by spending some cash above the 4% IRS minimum.)

So those kids who’s faces have hung outside the building might get to take a class in the new 18,000+ square foot operation before they’re no longer kids.

With a twenty-year plan and MMT’s bankroll, Lewis could reach across the street and take on Jefferson – which as a facility is NOT a white elephant.

Just get Tony Hopson and Pastor Hardy onboard and keep Marshall Haskins as the Varsity coach – go Demos! We’ll all be singing Remember My Name…

Advertisements