The Clayton Center Auditorium and Conference Center, located in the heart of historic downtown Clayton, North Carolina, is a wonderful example of how a group of private individuals can work with local government to preserve a piece of the past without sacrificing service to the community.
The property and the buildings that comprise The Clayton Center have been the cornerstone of community life in Clayton since 1915. The Center has its roots in the former Clayton School, which was full of life and activity for nearly 75 years before the Johnston County Board of Education closed the facility in 1997. The site sat neglected for several years until a group of citizens came together as the Clayton Cultural Arts Foundation and worked to save the old school buildings from demolition.
Between 1999 and 2002, the Clayton Cultural Arts Foundation raised $2.1 million to restore the school auditorium (circa 1926), while the Town of Clayton government spent an additional $6 million to renovate the classroom building. After several years of hard work and dedication to the project, the Town opened the doors to The Clayton Center – a unique, multipurpose space that is home to a 600-seat performing arts auditorium, a comfortable conference center for public and private events, and office space for town government operations. Opening night was New Year’s Eve 2002.
Today The Clayton Center, which serves patrons in Johnston County and the greater Triangle area, is the result of a successful public-private partnership between individuals committed to preserving the past, honoring the present, and looking toward the future.