Taylor Hembree

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the couples who were (still are) instrumental in getting The Plaza started. 

Tom and Sandra Rosseter are two people who if you know them, you love them. 

Tom was in the Leadership Putnam group that chose the broken, unhinged school building as its class project. Upon initial inspection, the school building was pretty much in disrepair — overrun with damages from age and the elements. But, Tom had a vision, and one that other people very quickly and eagerly got on board with. Raising money, the team slowly but surely rebuilt the building and ten years after the initial project proposal, The Plaza Arts Center opened. 

Since 2008, the building has been home to the Old School History Museum, The Plaza Theater, Plaza Alliance for the Performing Arts (PAPA), and of course, the beautiful lawn with the fountain. 

As of 2021, The Plaza has had hundreds of volunteers through the doors, thousands of patrons and even more impact on the area youth — this being one of the most important missions of the current staff and board members at The Plaza. 

We hear all the time about how awesome the museum and old classroom are, but frankly you don’t realize what a gem of a space we have here in Eatonton until you hear about the visitors. 

Tom and Sandra told me countless stories about the building, but perhaps some of the more poignant ones were stories of the impact that The Plaza has had directly on its visitors. 

For instance, Sandra told the story of a group from Claxton, Ga., you know the Fruitcake Capital of the World. She said the group came to tour the Old School History Museum so that they could recreate something similar in Evans. So, our museum is inspiring other counties to pursue preserving history, something that’s pretty pivotal these days. 

Another story told was one of a family that came in with a high schooler and a college student. The family stayed for nearly three hours one afternoon learning the history of their town. The two students sat in the barber chair, checked out the general store and genuinely had questions about the ‘way back whens.’ 

How awesome is it that we get to have The Plaza Arts Center in our community? When I left being a journalist, I thought it was going to be tough being THAT passionate about my next job, but this place has soul, it has a heartbeat close to its people. 

We need YOU to keep this place going. Support your local theater. Come to shows, visit the museum, audition for PAPA productions, become a member, volunteer. It’s time for the younger generation to step up to preserve the history of this town. 

— Taylor Hembree is the marketing director at The Plaza Arts Center. The Plaza Arts Center is located at 305 N. Madison Ave. in Eatonton, Ga. 

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