The Kelly purchases new facility

The Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery will open the doors to its new facility in early 2021.

The board of directors for The Kelly recently announced that the organization purchased its permanent home at 124 Company Street in downtown Wetumpka.

Belyn Richardson, board president, said a grant from the Alabama Power Foundation funded the purchase of the roughly 1,800-square-foot building.

“The really good news is that after the renovations, there will be very little debt, if any, thanks to the Alabama Power Foundation,” Richardson said.

Richardson said individual members and business partners make the ongoing support of the daily operations possible. 

Pete Powers Construction LLC will begin the renovation process in about two weeks. The space will remain as open as possible and will include office space, a kitchen, storage space and a handicap accessible restroom. Richardson said renovations should be complete by Feb. 2021.

“We’re open to donations in the form of supplies to help with renovation costs,” Richardson said. “We would appreciate any help that we can get. We do anticipate that there will be some support from the community.”

The Kelly board member Wayne Turner is supervising the renovation project. Turner said the building is structurally sound, but the interior needs some remedial work.

For The Kelly, the road to ownership has been a long one. In January 2019, The Kelly was displaced by the tornado that swept through Wetumpka. For all of 2019, the gallery’s belongings were in storage.

In February 2020, the gallery began renting its current East Bridge Street location, which is owned by the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce. A month later, COVID-19 forced the gallery to temporarily shut down.

Turner said The Kelly has been in search of a place to call home since the tornado struck.

“We’re so excited to make this new building our permanent home,” Turner said

Although there have been some challenges, Turner and Richardson said the gallery’s mission continues to center on art education. The mission of The Kelly is to build community by engaging, inspiring and educating artists, students and the public.

The gallery promotes local and regional visual art through exhibition, collection, recognition and documentation of relevant works, and by exhibiting original artwork, the story behind the artist and work, and promoting local tourism and inspiring creative industry by rotating showings. There’s also a permanent collection of J. Kelly Fitzpatrick artwork and other selections.