Lakeland's 25th Anniversary 1978-2003
In 1977 founder Mark E. Taylor, and other investors secured an option on building and land (l5.5 acres) of the former Littleton High School, located at 411 Mosby Avenue, Littleton, North Carolina. The Lakeland Cultural Arts Center Board of Directors was established in 1978 and
its first formal action was to name Mark E. Taylor the center's Executive Director and to name the theater in his honor.
From 1978 through 1982 a limited number of stage performances were held at the center using the old school
auditorium and stage.
In 1981 the State of North Carolina allocated $25,000 for the renovation of the building, and in 1982 the Lakeland Cultural Arts Center applied for a
mortgage on the facility with a $40,000 down payment. In 1983 the center paid the balance on the
mortgage plus the $40,000 borrowed for down payment.
Lakeland continued to grow under Mark's steady hand until his sickness and eventual death in 1990. His sickness and death left a void that resulted in a down turn for the
theater's productions and financial status. In 1991 Bob Haltenhoff was appointed to an unexpired term of one of the directors and named Chairman of the Board of Directors. Haltenhoff, who had helped establish a Small Business Incubator and new town library, brought his business knowledge and experience to the board and soon money was raised for the difficult task of repairing various areas of the building that had been let go for so many years. He and the Board of Directors were also faced with the leadership and technical gap created by Mark E.
Taylor's sickness and death. After trying to find a replacement for Taylor it was decided to leave the technical end to a
committee. This Production Committee would have complete say in the production end and would direct the shows. These dedicated people, such as Cheryl Sebrell and Douglas Wright are still actively directing shows at Lakeland. The current Production Committee consists of Wally Hurst, Maria Hurst, Cheryl Sebrell, Douglas Wright, Michael Smith, Star Cardwell-Abbott, Debra Wright, Julie Harris Mason, Joseph Flythe, Wanda Flythe, Bill O'Neill, and Larry Williams.
In 1997 a dramatic change took place when Wally Hurst was contacted to fill the open position of Managing Director. Wally,
who was raised in Warrenton, NC but at the time lived in California, had left a resume with Lakeland several years earlier. Hurst brought with him a wealth of knowledge. He not only was an attorney and lobbyist in the state of California but he also had been active in theater at Duke
University and various community theaters in California. His theater background filled the void left open since Taylor's death.
The Lakeland Cultural Arts Center made great strides in correcting the numerous problems inherent in old buildings such as
leaks, sagging floors, termite damage, etc. With these problems behind us emphasis has been directed toward improving the comfort of our audience and the quality of our productions. Some of the major accomplishments have been in improving sound by
adding new components to our sound system, but also by improving the theater acoustics.
A new ceiling was installed, walls were refinished, an orchestra pit was added, and
the sound and light booths were consolidated. Perhaps the greatest visible improvement has been
to the seating and the stage, as depicted in the pictures on the right. The simple
elegance of this theater reflects the style and grace of its founder and stands as a tribute to Mark E. Taylor.
. . visionary, pioneer, and guiding star.
It was Taylor's unwavering dedication to his dream of converting the abandoned Littleton High School Building into a hub of cultural activity which led to the ultimate success of this quixotic venture. It was he who saw the
potential for establishing an arts center behind those deteriorating walls, beneath the leaking roof, and down the dust-choked hallways. Mark
- we are continuing your dream.
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1982, 1986, 1987, and 2002: