#HomeGrownStories – Lisa Bauer

Lisa Bauer, a Clark County native, has given new life to a piece of downtown Troy history. In 2012 she bought the building which was the Mayflower Theatre. The building is now home to the Mayflower Arts Center, where Lisa is the director. Today the Mayflower offers painting parties, art classes and art exhibitions in downtown Troy. 

On her connection to Miami County:
It’s a strange connection. I’m from Springfield. We live south of Springfield in a small town called South Charleston. It’s about 10 minutes south of the Clark County Fairgrounds. My connection to Miami County and to Troy is this building [the Mayflower Arts Center]. I was in Troy for lunch one day with a friend in 2011. When I came around the corner and saw that the building was for sale, I started dreaming. I contacted the previous owner, Alan Teicher, and said I’d love to come and take a look. When I came in and looked around I immediately fell in love and started dreaming about what this space could be. One thing led to another and I started developing a business plan. I couldn’t let it go. I felt like this is something I want to pursue. At the time I was a stay-at-home-mom and a freelance graphic designer. I left my job in 2009 as the director of communications and marketing at our church. As I was working on the business plan, my husband was like “there’s no way we can do this.” I asked him if I could get the funding would he say “yes” and he said that we could talk about it then. I convinced two banks to back me up and in 2012 I got the keys to the building. So that’s my connection to Miami County.

The history of the Mayflower Arts Center:
I’m learning a lot about the history of the building. The Mayflower Theatre opened on January 31, 1928. The building has had two owners before me, Chris Pfister and Alan Teicher. Alan worked for Chris for a long time. Later he leased the building from him when Chris wasn’t able to manage it. Alan purchased it after Chris passed away. When they built the theater it was one big movie house. Then they split it into two long theaters with stages. Later they split it again into three theaters, which is how the theater is now. We use the one that’s in the middle, it seats 137 people. The other two from the original stage need to be renovated. They’re in complete disrepair. Then there is a fourth movie theater. I’ve been told that the windows were blocked and that the projector was in the back. There was only room for about 20 to 25 seats in here. It was an intimate little space. Alan was kind of trying to megaplex the Mayflower at one point. He closed it around 2009.

Mayflower Theatre, 1959

I found the original blueprints of the building in the back of the stage. They are old hand drawn blueprints from 1927. I find cool little things here and there like old movie tickets that were 25¢ or 35¢. I’m pulling together the little things that people threw in the back of the stage.

I talk to people when they come in the center that used to come to the theater. I actually met a gentleman a couple of weeks ago who worked here in the 1950s as a teenager. He went to Troy High School and he worked for Mr. Pfister. He was telling me all these stories about how he ran the projector and other equipment. He also sold tickets at the box office and concessions. It’s cool to meet people and hear their stories about the building.

What the Mayflower Arts Center has transformed into:
Today the Mayflower Arts Center is one step in my big dream. Right now we offer visual art classes for ages preschool to adult. We offer about twenty summer camps throughout the summer. The camps focus on visual arts or performing arts: improv and theater. Camps for younger kids have mixed media projects and feature a pop culture theme. This year one of the camps will focus on Moana: it’s called Camp Kakamora. We will also have a Willy Wonka camp, a pirate camp called Camp Scalawag and Camp Rafiki which is a safari based camp. Camps for kids ages ten and up are more technical art camps. These camps focus on drawing, painting, sculpture, or fiber arts.

We host painting parties for the public, as private classes, and as birthday parties. Our gallery features new artwork every five weeks. We show either a local, regional, or national artist in our gallery. Right now we have a show that starts May 1st and runs through June 24th. The show is Balance: a juried exhibition of the life and art of all things bicycle.

Each calendar year the exhibition schedule is a little different. We show movies from time to time and we have concerts. We usually have a concert once a month or twice a quarter. In the future, we’d like to get the whole theater renovated so we can do more with this space.

In mid-October, we host our annual HalloWizard Party. We turn the Mayflower Arts Center into Hogwarts and kids of all ages come dressed in costumes. They enter Hogwarts through Platform 9 ¾ and find out what House they are in with our Sorting Hat. It’s a lot of fun! The first year we did it we had about eight kids and now the event sells out every year. This year we’re offering it for three nights plus one night for adults only. Tickets are available online starting August 1st this year.

We keep our website updated with our current offerings. You can also rent the theater for a private movie screening, a birthday party or you can have a gaming party. We’ve had parties where people play Minecraft on the big screen!

On the community response to the Mayflower Arts Center:
It’s been good! People are still surprised when they come. A lot of people don’t realize that this isn’t a movie theater anymore. I will get phone calls from people asking what movie is showing [laughs]. The community has been very responsive — our summer camps sell out almost every summer. This is our fifth year, so that’s been a blessing.

What she loves about Miami County:
The people. Hands down, the people. Other than the fact that Troy has such a unique downtown and has so many nice things to offer. The people are amazing. No matter where you go in Miami County people are friendly and welcoming to everyone. I love the people — not only when I venture out, but when they come into the Mayflower Arts Center.

How Miami County is different from other communities:
It’s the homegrown part. Even though Miami County is large — we have tens of thousands of people — we still feel small. You feel like you’re at home when you’re here. It’s hard to put into words. There is something about Miami County that is vibrant, welcoming, and infectious. You can’t help but want to be here, but it’s hard to use one word to describe it.

Her Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
Out of town visitors should check out our gallery or come for a concert or movie! I definitely recommend the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center and Brukner Nature Center. Check out a restaurant or two — the downtown restaurants are phenomenal! The shopping here is incredible! You’re going to find things here that you will not find in other places.

You can’t miss the Troy Strawberry Festival – it’s growing and growing! I enjoy The Taste of Troy — people can sample food from different restaurants here in town. I like our Friday Nights on the Square and Troy Streets Alive. It gives people a chance to come and experience downtown Troy. A previous event, the Mumford & Sons Gentlemen of the Road Stopover, was like a three-day party! People were so excited to be here and they came in from way out of town.

Part of what makes Miami County amazing is this homegrown, hometown feeling, but we have a lot more to offer. We have so much diversity in entertainment, retail and shopping, and restaurants. There are so many different boutiques and restaurants in the downtown areas. They’re not franchises, they’re individual mom-and-pop shops. No matter where you hail from you will find something that you enjoy. I think we fit right in with that by providing the arts, culture and entertainment part.

Mayflower Arts Center
9 West Main Street, Troy, OH 45373
Facebook: @mayflowerartscenter
Instagram: @mayflowerartscenter
Twitter: @mayflowerarts

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