The Robert E. Lee School served the community since the 1800s. Generations of children spent their days reading, writing, laughing and playing in the large classroom and playground. The school closed in 1975, but with the new millennium came restoration and a new purpose, a school dedicated to the performing and visual arts. Classes in drawing, painting, drama, pottery, ballet, voice, piano, guitar and even yoga can be taken. The Tennessee River Fine Arts League displays in the hallways and several artists have loft studios.
The Krider Performing Arts Center is a beautiful 604-seat performance venue in the heart of Paris, Tennessee. Opened in 1999 through a cooperative effort between the City of Paris and the Paris Special School District, KPAC serves area school functions as well as community meetings, events and performances. The Krider Center takes its name from a local couple, Clem and Ruby Krider, who played a major role in the arts community of Paris and Henry County for more than 60 years. Mrs. Ruby Krider taught public speaking and drama to to many generations of Parisians, a few being Tony and Emmy winner Cherry Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner John Noble Wilford, Vanderbilt law professor Robert Covington, and Ford Motor Company Controller Frank Mason.
As a rental venue, many nationally-known performers have appeared on the KPAC stage through the efforts of various promoters. Rental fees are reasonable, offering special rates for non-profit organizations.
KPAC Young Artists is a program developed through Paris Parks and Recreation to foster accessible, affordable arts opportunities for area children and youth in various artistic disciplines. The Young Artists Theatre sponsors two or three shows with 80-100 participants each summer. The Super Duper Summer program is for children with special needs and combines arts enrichment and active play opportunities. Adults who want to act can participate in the recently-formed KPAC Players. This group performs for the community and does school-shows for area students.
Construction funding for Krider Performing Arts Center came through a parks and recreation grant from the State of Tennessee, thus KPAC’s administration is now managed through the City of Paris Parks and Recreation Department. The local Athena Delphian Club raised funds to provide seating for the theatre and for the purchase of our beautiful 7’ Steinway B Grand Piano.
Established in 1989, the Paris-Henry County Heritage Center is housed in Cavitt Place, the most prestigious mansion in Paris when it was built in 1916. Cavitt Place retains its original painted-glass windows, marble staircase and floors, ceiling and wall murals, and mahogany woodwork. This Italian Renaissance two-story home was called by one state historical expert “the jewel in the crown of Paris,” and is situated in the historic North Poplar Historic District.
The Heritage Center has temporary exhibits and a permanent exhibit featuring the history of Henry County. The Center also has an oral history video library, a tape-guided historic walking tour of downtown Paris and North Poplar Street and other research resources. The gift shop features books, memorabilia and items made in and/or related to Henry County and Tennessee.
The Heritage Center is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and on Saturday, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Special tours and times can be arranged by reservation. The building is also available for private parties, including weddings. Admission to the museum is free to the public. For more information, please contact the Center’s office at 731-642-1030.
The Paris Henry County Arts Council contributes much to the overall quality of life of Henry County through exhibits, showcases, plays, musicals, concerts and art in education.
Photo Show case is in March at the W.G. Rhea Library. Sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Danny Kimberlin, photographers of all ages may enter. Ribbons and prize money are awarded and an opening reception is held on the first Sunday afternoon of March.
Throughout the year, the Arts Council provides trips for all county 5th graders to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to see a professional play, musical, ballet or symphony. This is made possible through ticket and transportation subsidies provided by Humanities Outreach in Tennessee.
The Artist Show Case is hosted every April at the W.G. Rhea Library. Sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Dennis Wieck, two and three dimensional art by local amateur and professional artists are displayed throughout the month. Ribbons and other prizes are awarded by a qualified judge. The Show Case includes an opening reception on the first Sunday afternoon of April.
The Arts Council’s Christmas Program is always a full house event. A community chorus presentation of Handel’s Messiah is alternated with other quality Christmas concerts. The event is held at either First Baptist Church or First United Methodist Church in Paris. The most recent sponsor of the Christmas program was the local community churches.
The Tennessee River Fine Arts League operates an art gallery located at Lee School Academy of the Arts at 402 Lee Street in Paris. Art is changed quarterly and is free to the public.