LCRA awards $4,800 grant for upgrades to historic building in Columbus

Live Oak Art Center will restore original floors in 133-year-old exhibition and education space

LCRA representatives present a $4,800 grant to the Live Oak Art Center for upgrades to a historic building in Columbus. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Kevin Dyer, center board member and executive director; Casey Daley, center board secretary; Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA Board member; Renee Long, center board president; and Kate Ramzinski, LCRA Regional Affairs representative.

COLUMBUS, Texas – The Live Oak Art Center will make repairs to the 1891 Brunson Building, thanks to a $4,800 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority.

The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $20,959 in matching funds from the center, will allow the center to repair and restore the original wood floors in the historic building.

“The building was built in 1891 and the floors are original, so they need repairs badly right now,” said Renee Long, president of the Live Oak Art Center board. “The varnish is worn off, there are wide gaps in the boards and some areas are decaying.”

The Brunson Building, which originally operated as a saloon, is now home to the Live Oak Art Center’s free afterschool youth programs and summer camps, which are open to all Columbus students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“We try to meet the needs of our community members right where they are, not only to give the kids something fun to do, but to give the parents a break as well,” Long said. “For some of these families, this is the only extracurricular activity that their child is able to participate in due to limited finances.”

In addition to youth programming, the center offers adult art classes, a permanent art collection and changing exhibitions. The center also can be rented for private events and hosts lectures, workshops and competitions that draw visitors to Columbus.

“The community as a whole is working together to make Columbus more art-centric,” Long said. “We have an incredibly beautiful building where we can host community events and out-of-town visitors, so we want to refinish and restore what we are lucky to have here and make it safe for everyone.”

Long said receiving grant support for building maintenance allows their organization to focus on providing quality programming to the community.

“If we didn’t take care of the floors now, we would inevitably have to replace them because they would continue to deteriorate,” Long said. “Because of this grant, I don’t have to worry about having to divert funds from a program or make the excruciating decision to put a children’s program on pause for a semester in order to get these floors up to standard.”

The community grant is one of 44 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in July. More information is available at

About LCRA

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.

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