Grab your grand hats and head to the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center on Saturday, May 5, for “An Evening at the Kentucky Derby” from 5:30-9:00 p.m. This Run for the Roses viewing party and fundraiser will be the final event in the “Dinner with Berne” series, which benefits the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center’s multi-million dollar building restoration project.
Admission to the event is $100 and includes a mint julep (or glass of champagne) with southern fare. Tables are available for $1,000, and include reserved seating for eight, a glass of champagne or Early Times mint julep, two bottles of wine and patron listing in the event program. Presented by co-chairs Pamela Templeton and Janice Kemp, the evening features the Run for the Roses pre-show and the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” followed by a live musical performance by world-renowned jazz musician Wycliffe Gordon and a jazz quartet.
Located at 2301 First Street in Fort Myers, the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center sits on the site of the officers’ quarters of the original mid-1800s fort that was built during the Seminole Indian Wars and defended by the 2nd Regiment of the United States Colored Troops and other elements of the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1933, the present 23,000-square foot neoclassic revival building was dedicated as the new location for the U.S. Post Office. (The old location was the arcade on Broadway that is today home to Vino de Notte and Icheban Japanese & Chinese Steak House and which leads to the lobby of Hotel Indigo.) The building was converted into a federal courthouse in the 1960’s and was eventually vacated in 1998 after a new courthouse was built on the corner of First and Monroe streets.
In 2003, Florida Arts, Inc. acquired a 99-year lease on the building from the City of Fort Myers and agreed to meld the past with the future by restoring the building to its original magnificence and making it home to a modern, multi-purpose arts facility. Through grant funding and private donations that included a lead gift from the building’s namesakes, Sidney & Berne Davis, nearly 10,000 square feet of the building have been restored, and the building’s palatial grand atrium and east wing conservatory providethe community with a stunning venue for a continual stream of world-class arts programming and arts education.
The next phase of the restoration includes completion of the mezzanine, second floor and the building’s rooftop:
- When completed, the 2,500 square foot mezzanine level will include the light and sound booth and an artists’ green room, funded by Florida Power and Light.
- The 5,000-square-foot second floor will become the “capital gallery.” This multi-functional level will provide space for dance and ensemble rehearsal, meeting and office rooms, and multiple classrooms for visual arts education, music and dance lessons.
- The plan also includes design of a bi-level rooftop patio with an elevator landing and “starbar.” One level will feature an outdoor sculpture garden and the other will serve as a reception area.
Construction of the elevator is currently in progress and expected to be completed this summer.
“These renovations will greatly enhance the level of cultural programming that we can provide to the community,” notes Pamela Templeton, “Evening at the Kentucky Derby” co-chair. “Now more than ever, we need the support of the community. ‘An Evening at the Kentucky Derby’ gives the community a great opportunity to contribute towards the next phase of restorations while enjoying an exciting and fun evening.”
Adds Templeton, “Our hope is to have the building complete in Berne Davis’ lifetime, so that she can join us in introducing a new state-of-the-art venue for music, arts and performance to Southwest Florida.”
Free valet parking will be provided at the event by Frey Valet, and patrons are encouraged to attend in full, traditional derby attire, including fabulous hats! For tickets or more information, visit www.sbdac.com or call 239-333-1933.