Marty’s plans unveiled for downtown country music venue
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 6:00 PM
Options have been secured to purchase a downtown site for what will become the Marty Stuart Congress of Country Music, which incorporates the historic Ellis Theater, the country music legend said Tuesday morning.
The options include the buildings on the corner of Byrd Avenue and along Main Street which house A1 Maytag, Tri-State Consulting Services and Advanced Auto.
Community Development Partnership President David Vowell said the options are pending on the three businesses being able to relocate.
“We are working with a Realtor now,” he said.
Stuart, a Neshoba County native, called the site selection a dream come true.
“As soon as the papers are signed we are going to jump up and down with the happy dance,” he said. “It is exactly the right location after years of kicking tires and studying.”
Stuart said a dilapidated building behind the site is also included in the options.
“I think that will serve as an administrative building for us,” he said.
The site will officially be called the “Marty Stuart Congress of Country Music,” Stuart said, noting that congress means “gathering place.”
Stuart met with Gov. Phil Bryant on Monday to show him the rendering for the Stuart center.
“I felt it was time to go show the governor what we were doing in Neshoba County,” he said. “I simply wanted his blessing and support and he wholeheartedly gave it to us.”
Once the properties are secured, Stuart said it would be time to seek private donations across the nation and around the world to fund construction.
“The very first donation was made by a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and his wife,” he said. “Steve Miller was our first private donator, unsolicited.”
Three downtown sites were initially considered for the Stuart center.
Stuart hopes the center will be in operation in four to five years.
A market and financial analysis by Owens Economics, LLC, showed that the it would attract between 28,000 and 49,000 visitors annually.
The Marty Stuart center will showcase Stuart’s vast collection of country music memorabilia, including some belonging to such stars as Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. Stuart’s vast photography collection as well as his and wife Connie Smith’s personal memorabilia will also be included.
Stuart said officials from the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles were in Philadelphia last week to borrow pieces from the collection for its upcoming Marty Stuart exhibit which opens in May.
The state awarded $2 million in bond money for the renovation of the old Coca Cola building for the center’s warehouse. Items from the collection will be changed periodically from the warehouse to the center in order to attract visitors on a continual basis.
Members of the original Stuart center committee are Sid Salter, Nancy Yates, Chief Phyliss J. Anderson, Robert Cheat and Vowell. The steering committee will be announced in the near future.
Stuart holds the largest private collection of country music artifacts in the world and has been recognized by the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress.
Some pieces have held residence in the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry Museum, Grammy Museum, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and several others around the nation and world.