Young music student trying to save historic Christensen Academy

A precocious 14-year old who studies pre-college music theory at Utah State University is intent on restoring Brigham City’s historic Christensen Academy of Music and Dance to the extent she is heading up a <a target=”_blank” href=””>fundraising event Saturday</a>.

“This project actually has a special meaning for me because when it was still a dance hall my great grandparents met there,” said young Maggie Nawyn. “Being a pianist I am starting my own symphony and I thought what better place than to have it in this building.”

It was built by the family of William Christensen, founder of Ballet West and the San Francisco Ballet. The ballroom opened in 1903 but has since fallen into disrepair.

Nawyn hopes to raise $500,000 to save the building and transform it into a center for the arts in Brigham City. If she is successful, there are indications local entities and a private arts foundation will consider matching funds to get the project underway.

She said the project has been dead in the water for over five years and she pushed to get it started again. She said the exterior of the building was finished with brick and plaster. The first floor is being completely gutted while upstairs it remains as it was in 1931.

“Nothing has been done with the inside of the building and when we spoke with the builder this week he said the building could fall down at any moment.”

Special guest stars for the Saturday night concert are singer Alex Boye, who will serve as Master of Ceremonies, and actor/singer Marvin Payne. Several local musicians, including Nawyn herself, will also perform.

“We will have an open house where people can come and see a video about the building and tour the building, from 5-7 p.m., then the concert will go from 7-9 p.m.”

Nawyn’s plans for the future include a gala celebration next year.

“Hopefully in the third week of June we will celebrate the 110th anniversary of the opening of the building. If we can raise $500,000 in the next three years our city can match the other $500,000 and a private arts foundation will match $2 million to finish the building.”

Tickets are now on sale for the concert, “Dreams: Remembrance and Hope”, which will be held Saturday night at Academy Square, 60 North Main, Brigham City.

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