The Franklin School for the Performing Arts (aka FSPA) opened in 1985. After graduating from Middlebury College as a music major, I returned home to Franklin and began teaching piano, accompanying, and playing in the pit orchestra for shows, while beginning to direct and choreograph. The town was changing as the population tripled, the commuter line was extended to Forge Park, and Route 495 fast became a second 128. My thought was to open a small performing arts school in Franklin, with just a couple of rooms- one in which to teach my 35 piano students and another in which to try a schedule of dance, drama, instrumental, and voice classes. As the idea developed, I discovered the second floor at 38 Main Street, empty for years and in need of a little love. It was a space I had envisioned after 10 years in business, but I like to tell people that at the time I owned a car and a golden retriever, the risk was low, and with the encouragement of my fabulous family, I went for it. Now more than 30 years later with a staff of 60 employees, FSPA annually serves 500 students from nearly 50 communities. We have alumni on Broadway and throughout the entertainment industry and scores of others successful in many other lines of work. Most importantly, we strive to use arts training and experience in our community to graduate into the world young people who are accomplished, disciplined, prepared, happy, involved, kind, and caring citizens.
~ Raye Lynn Mercer
Originally built by The Ray Family, our building, renamed and known for decades as the Felix Cataldo Block, has graced the center of Franklin for more than a century. Outside of INTERMISSION are two photographs – one shot in 1916 and the second taken from the same position in 2016 by Franklin photographer Art Donahue. If the walls could talk, there would be tales of dentists, lawyers, clothing stores, the telephone company, Whiting and Davis, Friendly Travel (while the building was owned by the D’Errico family), and decades with many proprietors, of Franklin News. Now owned by The Ranieri Family and overseen by Margaret Ranieri, The Block has been the home of the Franklin School for the Performing Arts since 1985. FSPA originally occupied only the second floor; first floor space was acquired in three phases as the school has expanded through the years. FPSA, The Spotlight Shop, and INTERMISSION are now comfortably and happily settled into this downtown landmark.