The Center’s History > The Center Today

Life for the Center has been a tremendous and rewarding challenge for the all-volunteer Board of Directors. There have been live puppet shows, children’s programs, live theater, organized museum programs, local artist cabarets, summer camps, scouting functions, and many more activities to numerous to list. Each activity was taken on by the Center to benefit the people in the community. The Center became the county’s first branch library. For 10 years the Center was THE place to come and enjoy reading a book or completing a research project. It also became a Women’s Resource Center offering a safe place for women to come for help, assistance, and security. The Library and Resource Center have since moved on to larger and more modern facilities but the Center still remains as a resource for the community. Today, The Hanover Arts and Activities Center supports many organizations and in some cases offer use of the building for free. A local county chapter of The American Association for Retired Persons, (AARP) meets twice a month, free of charge, as does two 4H Clubs. We support our local Hanover County government by opening our building, free of charge, to the County’s Concert Band, and offer free storage space for their instruments. The band can be seen and enjoyed at many of our county festivities throughout the year. At one time, the County sponsored a square dancing club and we offered them free use of our building so the people in our community could enjoy a true American art. We’re sorry to say the club disbanded after a year.

We offer neighbors a chance to meet together, to develop a skill in an art or craft that they enjoy. We offer our classrooms to teachers that conduct music and art lessons. We keep the rent to a very low minimum so the cost of a class is affordable to parents who are seeking to advance their children’s musical and/or artistic abilities. The musical instruments include the violin, bass, cello, and viola, the acoustic and bass guitar, and the ever-popular piano. We rent a classroom to a stained glass instructor, and another room that is used by a graphic artist. Our basement is home to a non-profit preschool cooperative with a large outdoor playground. The preschool is founded on the principle that preschool children can learn more than just coloring, taking naps, and how to play games. Parents are required to participate in their child’s preschool development and volunteer a specified amount of hours to help the teacher during the semester. To help pay the bills, we rent our ballroom and kitchen to young couples looking for a beautiful site to hold their wedding and wedding reception. Our historical building adds to the beauty of a wedding and reception offered to our next generation of married couples. Finally, area businesses use the building for parties, seminars, and company meetings. The Hanover County Black Heritage Association has held two Jazz Festivals, and we have had many family reunions and 50th wedding anniversaries. We are an organization that offers our building for a variety of functions for people in our community to educate or enjoy themselves.

But that’s not all. We also sponsor community events that not only help us to raise funds but also offer a community service. In 1978 several people in our community talked about holding its own 10K run similar to those sponsored in larger cities. So we responded. Twenty-five years later we are still holding the Ashland 10K Railroad Run and 5K Walk. This event has grown from several dozen to several hundred runners and walkers. In 1989 many in our community wanted to celebrate its new found patriotism resulting from the success of the Gulf War. So we responded by sponsoring a parade and concert and held it on our Nations birthday. For the last 14 years, we have held a Fourth of July non-motorized parade and concert, along with good old fashion apple pie baking contest. In 2002 we added a water dunk tank and our gracious mayor has sat on the hot seat or wet seat – however you want to look at it – for the last two years. We started a second event in 1989 when the Center needed to raise money to renovate the building. The Board developed a Christmas in Ashland Tour of Homes, where we would offer the public a chance to tour the inside six or more homes built around the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. We decorate the owner’s home with beautiful natural decorations and flowers and charge a small fee for anyone who would like to tour the home. The tours have been so popular that 19 years later, we are still holding them. We also sponsor a gingerbread contest to identify the most creative gingerbread house artists in the community. The winners have their creations displayed at the Ashland library and/or local restaurants for the month of December. Finally, also, only on odd numbered years, we produce and direct a Musical Variety Show involving over 350 citizens from Ashland and Hanover County. The participants volunteer their time and talents for the show so we can raise money to help us continue to operate. Variety shows and live theater presentations have been a part of the center from the very beginning but officially became a biannual event in 1977. Over the years the show has grown and the audiences are sold out for the three days it’s held; truly a community and organization actively involved with each other. We have continually sought to change with the times and try to keep ourselves abreast of the needs of the community. We feel we have accomplished that goal and as we enter the 21st century we even realized the importance of the computer, so we designed and began our own web site to introduce our availability and our commitment to the public. Using the computer age to inform our community of the educational classes we sponsor and the activities we hold every year has reaped great rewards. We now see our Center used almost every day of the month. Some are free and some pay, but what’s most important is we are a community center actively involved with its community.

You are invited to visit us and our Director will be happy to give you a tour of the building. You can reach us at 804-798-2728 or by email at