McKinney Performing Arts Center, also known as MPAC, is the go-to venue for a vast range of entertainment in McKinney, Texas. Built in the historic Collin County Courthouse in the old downtown square, the center seats 427 people for off-Broadway shows, stand-up comedy, theater, and concerts. If you want to host a special event in a historical setting, MPAC has you covered there as well, offering a number of MPAC rooms for rent to the public.
No matter your musical or artistic tastes and preferences, the McKinney Performing Arts Center has something for everyone to enjoy. It provides fun and enjoyment for the entire family. Read on to learn more about this unique venue.
The History of the McKinney Performing Arts Center
The McKinney Performing Arts Center has an exciting history worth knowing about. The building was completed in 1875 and opened to the public in 1876. At that time, it was known as Collin County Courthouse and considered to be the tallest building in Texas, north of San Antonio. Designed in the style of the French Second Empire, the original building had two floors, twin towers on the eastern side, a steep mansard roof with patterned shingles, and decorative cut stone.
A dedication ceremony and inaugural party celebrated the opening of the courthouse in 1876. Approximately 1,000 locals attended the buffet dinner and dance, which lasted into the morning hours despite bad weather. The song “Blue Danube” played throughout the evening.
In 1927, the courthouse underwent a complete remodel, gaining a basement and third floor plus a brand-new buff brick exterior. A concrete roof deck and a new parapet replaced the old roof, and fireproof steel and concrete replaced all the wood framing. This renovation increased the floor space in the original courthouse, almost doubling its size.
When McKinney’s new courthouse on McDonald Street opened, the Old Collin County Courthouse was vacated. In 1983, the historic courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The city of McKinney worked closely with the Texas Historical Commission to restore the old courthouse, aiming to preserve its classic beauty. After sitting vacant for almost 25 years, the impressive building reopened in March 2006 as the McKinney Performing Arts Center we know and love today.
McKinney Performing Arts Center Events
You can always find something fun and exciting taking place at the MPAC. For example, the Summer Concert Series brings a diverse selection of musical acts to the Performing Arts Center for summer fun and entertainment. The center’s Courtroom Theater is considered to be one of the best listening rooms in North Texas, thanks to its close-knit crowd capacity and one-of-a-kind acoustics.
The Center is also home to the McKinney Repertory Theatre (MRT), set up in 2003 by a group of local amateur actors. The theater typically puts on five shows a year and hosts other events for local families to enjoy.
In addition, the Young Actors Guild is made up of more than 80 young people from Collin County and aims to show local children just how important they are, on- or off-stage. Each show is produced by the children, right down to the set design, fundraising, marketing, and light and sound. The Young Actors Guild typically puts on four shows a year at the McKinney Performing Arts Center.
Getting Around the McKinney Performing Arts Center
The ground-level entry into the center is located on the eastern side of the building, providing the public entry into a spacious vestibule that includes access to the public restrooms, ATM, and elevator. The ground floor is also home to the Gallery, Artist Studio, and the Market Street Catering area.
The first floor features several rooms, including the Ruschhaupt Hall that seats 104 guests, the Encore Conference Room that offers seating for 14, and the Noble Hall, which accommodates 50 guests banquet-style and 75 in a theater layout. The second floor is home to the 427-seat Courtroom Theater, and the third floor is used for balcony seating.
Attractions Near the McKinney Performing Arts Center
McKinney is known for its picturesque tree-lined streets, diverse population, rich and vibrant history, and true community spirit. You can experience many other exciting things to see and do within driving distance.
The McKinney Performing Arts Center sits in the center of the city’s downtown square, which has plenty of shopping options and top restaurants and bars for people to enjoy. The area is known for its array of top-quality antique stores, including The Menagerie and Homepieces. If you’re an art lover, head to LAST Art Gallery to browse a variety of works by local artists.
If you’re a history fanatic, visit the nearby Collin County History Museum. Situated in the city’s old 1911 Post Office building, the museum lets visitors browse historical artifacts, photographs, documents, manuscripts, maps, diaries, newspapers, and land records from McKinney. What’s more, the “McKinney Then and Now” exhibition uses historic photographs and set designs of original buildings to let visitors step back in time to the early days of McKinney.
History buffs will also enjoy the walking tours that take place in downtown McKinney. The Downtown Walking Tour shows visitors parts of the square they wouldn’t usually note, while the tour guide points out sites such as the last legal hanging in Collin County. Alternatively, the Historic Building Walking Tour explores the rich history of the downtown buildings, two of which were home to a jail and a newspaper office.
If you don’t mind a short drive across town, take the family to the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, which aims to educate children about nature with its stunning 289-acre wildlife sanctuary and 5 miles of walking trails.
So, there you have it. If you didn’t know much about McKinney Performing Arts Center and the nearby area, you certainly do now. Did you enjoy our article? If we missed any details about MPAC, let us know. Get in touch with us, and we’ll add it in.
Image via Flickr by QuesterMark