With balloons, music, and the cutting of a ribbon, the long-anticipated Mother Brook Arts and Community Center at the site of the former Avery Elementary School became a reality Wednesday.
More than 100 town officials, artists, and community members came out for the ribbon-cutting celebration at 123 High St.
“I want to take a moment to thank everyone who shared in the dream and shared in the vision to make this historic day happen,” said state Representative Paul McMurtry, Democrat of Dedham, standing in front of the arts center.
One of a number of speakers that evening, McMurtry said it was important for communities to appreciate and support the arts.
Michael Butler, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, prefaced his remarks by saying this was an emotional day for him as someone who grew up in East Dedham.
The building opened in 1921, and one of his aunts started first grade in the school in 1922. Since then, most years has seen a member of Butler’s family in the school, he said.
“One of my uncles – he’s in his 80s – he said to me that ‘Dedham has a history of tearing down its history,’” Butler said, referring to other historic buildings the town did not save.
That is why it is important to have saved the historic Avery School, he said.
The building was no longer used by the Dedham Public Schools after the opening of the new Avery Elementary School at 336 High St. in April 2012.
“We felt in our heart of hearts that this was a building worth saving,” Butler said.
The arts and community center was selected as a desirable use for the building by the Avery Re-Use Committee in 2011, and Town Meeting supported that use with a vote to allow selectmen to lease the building.
Selectmen agreed to a lease agreement with a nonprofit that sprang up to run the center, headed by executive directors Sarah Blum and Jean Ford Webb.