Located in the heart of historic downtown McKinney, Texas, you’ll find a host of hidden gems, including more than 120 independently owned boutiques and restaurants. However, the majestic McKinney Performing Arts Center (MPAC) at the old Collin County Courthouse tops the list of must-see local attractions. Open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., MPAC provides guests with a host of experiences steeped in culture and history. Everyone’s welcome to explore the building, discover the permanent art exhibits, or even just use the restrooms.
The downtown McKinney Commercial Historic District thrives as a place where people come to gather, and MPAC sits front and center as the focal point of this important area. From local theater productions to piano classes for kids and public art displays, you’ll find it all and more at MPAC. Whether you want to rent a space at the multipurpose facility or simply catch a live show, MPAC offers something for everyone. Keep reading to learn more about how the McKinney Performing Arts Center helps influence economic vitality and preserve the culture, heritage, and history of the community.
Did you know MPAC’s beautiful building boasts a rich history that dates back more than 150 years? Before the construction of the building that now sits on the land, two wooden structures filled the space between 1848 and the 1870s. The current Collin County Courthouse — established between 1874 and 1976 — shone brightly as what was said to be the tallest building in Texas north of San Antonio at the time.
Designed by architect Charles Wheelock and built in the French Napoleon III style, the courthouse represented the wealth and democratic ideals of the era. A little more than 50 years later, the government building underwent a massive remodel to make it over in the neoclassical revival style and nearly double the structure’s size.
Over the next 72 years, the building continued to serve the community as an active courthouse. However, when a new courthouse opened on McDonald Street in 1979, the community no longer needed the Collin County Courthouse. As a result, the building sat vacant for the next several decades. By that time, the aging courthouse required major renovations to bring it up to standard. Finally, nearly three decades later, that’s exactly what happened. In 2006, the Collin County Courthouse received a $9-million facelift to become the multipurpose performance hall it is today.
Given the historical importance of the venue and the structure’s rank on the National Register of Historic Places, extreme care and attention to detail went into the Collin County Courthouse restoration project. Preserving the integrity and beauty of the structure remained top of mind at all times. Today, the McKinney Performing Arts Center serves at the centerpiece of the downtown McKinney Commercial Historic District.
The McKinney Performing Arts Center features a variety of incredible spaces designed for all kinds of events. The Courtroom Theater provides seating for as many as 435 guests, including the balcony. On top of that, the theater features a large stage, vintage Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ, professional lighting and sound systems, and two dressing rooms with backstage access, making it the ideal space for live performances.
Both Noble Hall and Ruschhaupt Hall offer excellent alternatives for smaller live performances and ceremonies. Each one provides theater or ceremony seating for up to 75 or 130 guests respectively, as well as the option to add banquet tables or a dance floor.
As the perfect setting for important business meetings, the spacious Encore Wire Conference Room features a large conference table with seating for up to 14 people and complimentary Wi-Fi. For intimate events, such as cocktail receptions, banquets, and small ceremonies, the rustic ambiance of MPAC’s Gallery space provides a unique and backdrop. In addition to formal event spaces, MPAC plays host to an art gallery, working artist studios, executive suites for lease to nonprofit organizations, and Market Street Catering area.
Exciting Special Events
MPAC hosts a wide range of special events throughout the year, including off-Broadway shows, concerts, and conventions. As part of the Summer Concert Series, enjoy the diverse talents of various musical acts in the intimate environment of the Courtroom Theater. The exceptional acoustics make it a one-of-a-kind concert experience. From the stunning sounds of the McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra to the Celtic folk chords of Byrne and Kelly, there’s something to suit everyone’s unique musical tastes.
MPAC’s resident theater company, the McKinney Repertory Theatre (MRT), puts on an exciting lineup of five different stage productions and other entertaining events each year. Additionally, the McKinney Repertory Theatre’s Young Actors Guild (YAG) provides opportunities for more than 80 young people in Collin County to get involved in live shows — both on stage and behind the scenes. Other annual events include the Bridal Show, Juried Art Show, and Arts & Music Series.
Fun-Filled Classes and Camps
In addition to providing amazing facilities for catching a show or conducting an important meeting, the McKinney Performing Arts Center also offers a slew of educational activities throughout the year. In fact, you’ll find an array of classes for everyone from tots to teens.
For kids aged 6 to 15, the McKinney Piano & Voice Academy hosts summer camp classes where students learn to act and dance. On top of that, they also receive vocal training. Each participant also gets the chance to take part in a musical theater production. Other fun educational opportunities include piano camps for beginners, musical theater camps, and camps that focus on rock, pop, and Broadway music.
So, there you have it. The McKinney Performing Arts Center provides some of the finest entertainment, artistic, and educational opportunities in Collin County. Do you agree? From live stage shows and concert series to public art exhibits and theater camps, MPAC offers something for everyone. Did we miss any important events or offerings at MPAC? Have we captured all the details about what makes this historic venue so special? If there’s more information you think we should include, let us know! Drop us a line, and we’ll be sure to add it.
Image via Flickr by Get McKinney