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South Jackson Civic Center to light new windows in Thursday ceremony

South Jackson

This stained glass window, which depicts the iconic comedy and tragedy masks commonly associated with theater programs, is one of three brand new windows installed at South Jackson Civic Center. According to South Jackson Executive Chairman Greg Gressel, the windows will be lit up for the first time at a special lighting ceremony at 8 p.m. on Thursday. The public is invited to attend.

Stained glass installed as part of Eagle Scout project

Visitors to the South Jackson Civic Center may have noticed a new addition to the historical building’s facade, but the public will get the chance to see on their own just how the center has updated its look on Thursday.

Atop the front of the building are three brand new stained glass windows depicting representations of the fine arts that take place inside the iconic Tullahoma structure.

The windows were created by Barbara Church of Estill Springs. Church was among the artists selling items at the Arts Alive festival in May of this year.

Due to their age, the old windows had fallen into disrepair and looked unattractive, according to Greg Gressel, the executive chairman of the SJCC.

Gressel's son, Nicholas Gressel, decided to spend time sprucing them up and creating something artistic for an Eagle Scout project.

“It just felt like a good project for him to jump on and try to make a difference there,” the senior Gressel said.

Nicholas helped design all three windows, as well as create special enclosures for them in order to darken the main theater inside the center.

The enclosures, according to Greg, are special frames that are able to slide into each of the three windowsills.

“It seals off any light from coming into the auditorium,” Greg said. “The framework then has two doors on each window that lock, and that seals it off. You can still open and have access to the windows, but it seals it off and keeps it dark in the auditorium for performances.”

In addition to Nicholas’s work on the enclosures and the stained glass design, the center also received help from two local businesses.

Greg said A&R Glass and Cook Neon Signs both assisted in the removal of the old windows and the installation of the new ones.

Greg said without their support, the project would have been nearly impossible to achieve and thanked them profusely for their assistance.

Nicholas’s project isn’t the only one in recent months that has benefited the civic center. According to Greg, two other scouts have completed projects that helped improve operations at South Jackson.

Anthony Wonder’s Eagle Scout project was to create a brand new lighting and sound booth in the rear of the auditorium, Greg said.

The Girl Scouts of America have also left their mark on the center through Taylor Patterson.

Greg said a couple months before Anthony’s project, Taylor designed and constructed sound partitions for the orchestra as her Gold Award project – the Girl Scout equivalent to the Eagle Scout.

“She built and designed those to direct the sound to the stage and to become a sound barrier between the audience and the orchestra,” he said.

Having all these young people in the community recognize South Jackson as a vital component of the community does wonders for nonprofits like the center, Greg said, and he was thankful that so many young scouts have chosen to do projects that benefit the center.

 Lighting ceremony

In order to celebrate the new windows and to kick off their nighttime lights, Greg said there is a special lighting ceremony taking place at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

The lights will be flipped by a ceremonial switch, and the public will be able to see the new windows in all their glory.

“It will be the first time they will be lit,” Greg said.

Once the windows are officially lit up, they will be set on a timer that will keep them lit during the nights and off during the day, Gressel said.

“It’ll be a constant reminder of South Jackson as a performing arts center here in the community, because the stained glass windows themselves are designed to portray the performing arts.”

Those wishing to attend the lighting ceremony are welcomed to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

The South Jackson Civic Center is located at 404 South Jackson St. in Tullahoma.

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