MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Renaissance Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary Oct. 25 from 8:30 to 11 p.m., with a costume ball at its home on the third floor of the IOOF Building at 112 South Main.
A group of enthusiastic Knox County residents saw the need for a non-governmental based rebirth and preservation of the historic, architectural and cultural heritage of the city and county. With six people signing the incorporation document in February of 1988 the Knox County Renaissance Foundation was born.
Off to a fast start, in the first decade KCRF started and ran the Dan Emmett Music & Arts Festival, pioneered the development of the Knox County Visitor’s Bureau, brought the plight of the Woodward Opera House to the public and paid for an engineering study of that building. The roof and windows of the Mound View Cemetery Chapel were replaced and secured from the elements halting decades of neglect. Debts from the musical artists hired for the big name entertainment at the Dan Emmett Music & Arts Festival spawned a series of fee-based home tours in the three historic residential districts to pay off festival loans.
In the following decades interest in the historic districts in turn produced lobbying for the preservation and restoration of the brick streets, two guides to the historic districts, historic markers on the square, and historic district signage erected for the Mount Vernon Bicentennial in 2005.
In 2000 KCRF produced a tour of historic rural churches. For the county’s bicentennial in 2008 KCRF put on the Barns R Noble Barn Tour. This project then became the Knox County Barn Tour in 2010 and 2012. In 2009 KCRF bought the historic IOOF Building at 112-114 S. Main St. This circa 1858 Italianate brick landmark had been owned by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and had been allowed to deteriorate. However, the Odd Fellows wanted it to be in historically sensitive hands and offered it for sale to KCRF. With generous contributions from the Community and Ariel Foundations, KCRF has been restoring the building to its former state. The project is about 90 percent completed with more work to be done on the façade and second floor.
Proceeds from the costume ball will go towards completing the restoration of the IOOF Building and further the goals of KCRF. The Mount Vernon Players, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary as well, will be entertaining the crowd with material from their upcoming performance of “Into The Woods.” Two tickets to the show will be given to the best costume and the bands, The Usual Suspect and the Repeat Offenders, will be playing. Tickets are $8 per person and $15 per couple and will include appetizers. Bring own beverage. Online tickets are available at www.mountvernontickets.com, at Sips Coffee House and Deli, or at the door.
Meetings for KCRF are on the second Thursday of each month and membership is open to anyone interested in furthering its goals. A more complete history of KCRF and ongoing projects can be found at www.kcrf.wordpress.com.
Published on October 17, 2013