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Historic sign shines

Hamilton (OH) – A piece of local arts history found its way to the Fitton Center for Creative Arts last fall.

At the first of the new year, the artifact received a permanent new home.

The Fitton Center facilities team installed the circular wooden sign - about three feet in diameter and touting the Hamilton-Fairfield Arts Council – on January 3. It hangs prominently just inside the entrance to the building above the door to the Claire Fitton Dance Studio on the left.

“Our articles of incorporation say the ‘Hamilton-Fairfield Arts Council,’ and that dates back to the ‘60s,” said Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, Fitton Center Executive Director. “That we received this gift, this link to our start, during our 30th anniversary season makes it all the more special.”

Steve and Sandra Cearly donated the sign to the Fitton Center in October of 2023. They obtained it from Phil Wong of the Coach House by way of an auction at the old High Street Café in Hamilton.

Its arrival coincided with the installation of the Home Free/Being Good exhibitions that close January 5. Throw in the holidays and it took a little time to decide the right place to put the sign and not have it covered seasonal décor.

The Cearleys have many connections to and memories of the Fitton Center, not least being their nephew Nick Cearly’s – ahem – raw 2019 performance with The Skivvies as part of the 25th anniversary season Showstoppers Series.

“We’ve had a lot people in our family take classes and perform here from the beginning,” Steve said. “But we’ll be the ones on the wall because of this sign.”


“Take that, Nicholas,” Sandra said with a laugh.

“We’re always looking forward, but this is a beautiful and generous way to connect to our past,” MacKenzie-Thurley said. “We’re grateful for the gift of the sign and for our long-standing connection to the arts in this area.”

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.

Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture

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