Exploring McClellan: Buckner Events Plaza
by Larry May
Special to The Star
Dec 06, 2013 | 1100 views |  0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As McClellan continues its repopulation, the varying manners of reinvention are captivating. Structures long left in decay have taken on new life and innovation is underway all across the former military installation. One such labor of love is the Buckner Events Plaza, formerly an army recreational center, being revamped by Lonna Miller and her husband, Adam.

When asked about her reasons for purchasing the complex and adding her flourishes, Mrs. Miller replied, “ I drove around this building for years and had always loved it. I love all of the old buildings out here. I hate to see them all falling apart. But this one was always the one. I had tried to get it several times over the years. I used to own a flower shop and brought my things to weddings out here. It was always in the back of my mind”.

The Millers got the building they had always wanted when the timing was right. Lonna was elated but also a nervous about what was required after taking possession of the facility. “I began to realize how much work there was to do. Some of the building was in disrepair. It’s 32,000 square feet. The hardest part was painting the entire outside. But I was just so excited that it was finally mine. So I dug right in”, she finished.

The majority of the improvements are done and the facility has hosted over 30 events since May. But Lonna insists that they still haven’t officially opened. “People have seen us working outside and wanted to tour the building. We booked three weddings one day while we were landscaping. Once they see the inside, they’re hooked. We have had proms, other school events and some weddings. We’ve done some corporate events.

We continue to get calls all the time without having a grand opening”.

The Millers have taken time and care to meticulously curate their 250-seat theater. The space is cozy and brings a feel not unlike the Ryman in Nashville. Deciding not to make a splash but rather a cannonball, their first concert was Grammy nominated bluegrass artists Dailey and Vincent. Raising the level of talent was important for the Events Plaza as they felt like the first show needed to be significant. Miller said, “I have a background in the music business. I started as a singer-songwriter and went into artist management in Nashville. I also worked for NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) for some time. Bringing them to town was a dream of mine. I was so satisfied the night of the show when people were eating great food and dancing before the big show in the theater. I have so many ideas about how to make this area a cultural venue for so many things. We did an Edgar Allen Poe event for Halloween. We are going to show movies on the big screen. Because of my love for music and my musical background, this theater will always be the favorite part of this place”.

There are three distinct areas that are suited for different needs. The theater is reminiscent of old show halls and carries a whisper of yesteryear. The grand hall has the capacity for 300 guests and is perfect for a variety of events. The floor is spacious and the stage has room for shows and seminars alike. The café area was once the Terra Café and still carries accents of the restaurant. The fireplace is warm and inviting to a room that can hold up to 190 occupants. The adjoining back deck area is a great place to enjoy dinner and the rolling foot hills observable from the back of the property. The courtyard is magnificent with flaming red brick and an outdoor elevator that carries guests back to the front of the plaza. The entire property is a ready-made backdrop for photography. There simply isn’t a bad place to snap shots of weddings, dances or the event of your choice.

The heart has been compared to a human clock. Anniston, and especially McClellan, is ticking with new signs of life for culture and the arts. The McClellan Events Plaza should fuel that creative heartbeat for decades to come.
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Exploring McClellan: Buckner Events Plaza by Larry May
Special to The Star

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