SMITHVILLE, Texas – A $22,900 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and the City of Smithville will help the Lost Pines Artisans Alliance replace a leaky roof, add a handicapped-accessible restroom and upgrade the kitchen at the Mary Nichols Arts Center, which houses the organization.
The grant, along with matching funds of $5,600, will pay for improvements to the historic Nichols House. Built in the early 1900s, the house was deeded to Smithville in 1992 for the creation of the Mary Nichols Arts Center. The Lost Pines Artisans Alliance maintains the property as an arts-focused community center, offering studio and gallery space and workshops related to visual arts, music and other forms of artistic expression.
Along with repairs to the roof, the improvements will include renovating the center’s restroom to make it comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and upgrading the adjacent kitchen.
Smithville City Manager Robert Tamble said the improvements will help make the Mary Nichols Arts Center “a truly polished jewel” within the city’s Richard D. Latham Cultural District, while also aiding Smithville’s efforts to boost tourism and commerce.
“The timing could not have been better for LCRA to sweep in to help us restore this beautiful, historic home,” Tamble said.
Brandy Royster, a professional artist and president of the LPAA, said the group was ecstatic to hear it had received the grant.
“The Mary Nichols Arts Center is a wonderful historic building with so much potential, but as with many older properties, it needed some repairs to keep it functional,” she said. “Up until now, we could not afford those repairs.”
With funds secured for the renovations, Royster said, the Lost Pines Arts Alliance will be able to move ahead with projects that include a new pottery studio, music lessons and a recording studio where local singers and songwriters can collaborate on an album.
“We are so excited to be able to look forward to finishing these repairs and getting back to what we do best: creating and sharing art,” Royster said.
The community grant is one of 28 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA’s wholesale electric and water service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. The City of Smithville is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and a partner in the grant program.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted July 1-31. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp.
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations. For more information, visit