Evolving from a wildly successful three-day arts festival sponsored in 1958 by the City Women’s Federation,
The Cultural Activities Center
was born as an area arts council, a clearinghouse for arts and artists. With the 1957 launching of the Russian Sputnik, schools were emphasizing science and math. A goal of the arts council was to link cultural arts with the emphasis on science. Through the years many area citizens have left their mark on the cultural life of this area.
Nora Lee Mayhew (Mrs. R.E.) Wendland
co-founded the Cultural Activities Center in 1958. An accomplished violinist, she was listed in the “International Who’s Wh
o of Music” in 1941 and in 1951. Her interest in prodding Temple schools to revitalize their strings program led her to accept the presidency of the City Federation of Women’s Club in 1957, thinking it was a way to get something for the whole family, not just women. Following a 1958 City Federation Arts Festival project that far exceeded expectations, she pushed community leaders to support a fledgling arts center. Wendland Hall honors her legacy.
CAC co-founder Raye Virginia McCreary (Mrs. H.K.) Allen was chairman of the City Federation’s Cultural Arts Committee that organized the 1958 arts festival. Together, they gathered up anyone with any interest in the arts, carefully mixing the best of local talent with professionals from all around the nation. Their goal was to provide a diverse offering of the highest standards for students of the arts. Both women believed that first successful arts festival to be “the beginning of our dreams.”
The pair researched arts councils and centers for the arts that were being organized in the 1950s and started talking to local representatives from business and civic groups, as well as national groups to organize the Cultural Activities Center. Incorporated on July 10, 1958, the CAC was one of the first arts councils in the nation to be combined with facilities for the performing and visual arts. Temple ISD allowed the Center to use the former Central Jr. High School (on the current site of the Temple Post Office) for its first home, and later, the empty Wedemeyer Academy near S. 31st and Ave. J. Mrs. Allen was the first president, and Mrs. Wendland (as program chairman) saw to it that CAC information was distributed to newcomers.
Azalee Matthews (Mrs. Kiefer) Marshall
was hired by Mrs. Wendland and Mrs. Allen a few years after the founding of the CAC. Her son, Keifer Marshall, Jr. described how his mother loved the CAC — she really did anything that needed to be done. Children affectionately called her “CAC Marshall.” She served tea, scheduled concerts, arranged art classes, and washed windows. Her supporter and No. 1 assistant was her husband, who chauffeured people needing rides to the CAC, hung exhibits, and made repairs on the leaky Wedemeryer Building. In 1962, her friendship with George Brown, of the Brown & Root, Inc. Foundation, helped garner a $15,000 donation to the CAC. Matching funds from a community fund drive made possible the purchase of an old church for its first permanent home. Mr. Brown offered to contribute more funds for a completely new building “if you people are really serious about the CAC.” On Christmas Day in 1970, Azalee Marshall unexpectedly passed away. Afterwards Brown followed through with an offer of matching funds, nearly half a million dollars, for a building to be named after Mrs. Marshall. It opened in 1978, fulfilling Azalee Marshall’s dream of a facility offering programs to involve entire families.
, created by internationally-known African-American artist
of Chicago, was given to honor Mr. and Mrs. H.K. Allen for their respective efforts as chairman of the 1976 building campaign, known as the Crusade for the Arts fund drive, and as the first CAC president. The sculpture represents art, dance, and music, based on the ancient Greek myth of the god of music. Displayed on the north side of the CAC entrance against a backdrop of donated Texas granite from the former Temple National Bank building, the bronze sculpture was the gift of
Mary Vivian Arnold (Mrs. Irvin) McCreary
who matched a grant for major art works in public buildings from the National Endowment for the Arts. Recruited by her daughter, Raye Virginia Allen, she was a strong supporter of the arts in Temple, serving as a volunteer, board member and CAC contributor from its inception. She provided funding for the McCreary Exhibition Gallery, and for the Irvin McCreary Memorial Courtyard in 1981.
Helen Scott (Mrs. Walter) Saulsbury was a Temple civic leader, the daughter of Scott & White Hospital co-founder Arthur Scott, and a CAC supporter with a particular interest in theater. The Saulsbury Gallery at the CAC provides the entrance to the CAC Mayborn Auditorium.
Frank and Sue Mayborn, Temple business and civic leaders, have been long-time supporters of the CAC. In 1976, Frank Mayborn donated 15 acres to the City of Temple for a convention facility and arts center. These two buildings were constructed according to a master plan designed by architects William Glenn Rucker and William Chamlee. The CAC facility was built and is privately owned, with a 99-year lease, from the City of Temple. The Frank Mayborn Auditorium, which is an excellent venue for entertainment, was named for him. Frank Mayborn died in 1987, but Sue Mayborn continues to be a strong supporter of the CAC. The Frank W. & Sue Mayborn Foundation was instrumental in the building of an addition to the CAC in 2003.
Durward & Jean Howard donated much of their art collection from traveling the world to the CAC's permanent collection. Durward Howard was the Temple High School band director from 1948-84 and was inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame in 1991. His wife, Jean, was also a teacher who initiated the first honors course at Temple HS. The Howard Gallery was named in their honor.
An island of landscaping enhances the CAC driveway, including
The William Goodrich and Zolle Luther Jones Memorial Garden, given by Luther, Riette, and Doris Jones in memory of their parents who lived and worked 33 years in Temple. Mr. Jones was known as the “Father of Texas Forestry,” originating the first Ar
bor Day in the state.
The Judy Kaelin Connor Garden
was presented by her friends and family, remembering the volunteer legacy of the 1996 Contemporaries’ president who dedicated so much of her time to the CAC.
Sternberg Art Collection
- A Polish Jew who fled WWII Europe, Daniel Sternberg conducted orchestras in Leningrad, Vienna, New York, and later opera productions in Waco, where he was a member of the Baylor music faculty. His wife, Felicitas, was a dramatic director and set designer. Her miniature opera sets and a collection of artwork is housed in the art collection facility that bears their name. Tours can be arranged for groups by appointment.
A Shining Light -
Designed and created by Robert Rynearson, Jr.,
the Scott & White Foyer features artistic lighting dedicated to the memory of Sally Elizabeth DiGaetano (1954-2006), beloved Contemporaries volunteer and friend of the CAC. Her dearest friends were members of the Contemporaries, and countless hours were spent at the CAC to advance the cause of bringing Arts and Education to young people. Many a laugh and fond memories were the product of her ongoing association with the CAC and the gracious women of the Contemporaries, who held a special place in Sally’s heart.