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O'Keefe Magnacoustic

Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center – Music Studio


An old high school, constructed in 1927 and no longer used by the school system, had begun to deteriorate.  Caring citizens got the school on the National Register of Historic Buildings and obtained grants to begin the restoration of this community building to promote the arts in the City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  In 2003, the school’s theater, balcony, halls, and bathrooms were restored and renovated and the building opened for business as the Mary C. O’Keefe Arts and Cultural Center (aka The Mary C).  Impressed by the facility, five students (Alex Scharr, Travis Scharr, Bradley Dale, Jamie Favors and Daniel Lorrain) learned more about the needs of the Mary C and decided to raise money to turn one of the classrooms into a music room/recording studio for the whole community to use.  

Since July 2004, these young musicians have performed six concerts and organized two music festivals to achieve their dream.  Almost $60,000 has been raised from these concerts and through generous donations.  While additional monies will always be needed to expand the equipment, the room was officially opened and dedicated on December 29, 2006.  The Scharr-Ello Music Studio, designed by local architect Dennis Cowart, includes a practice room and a recording studio.  

Because of the historical aspect of the building, there were many design challenges to provide a quality studio without compromising the historical aspects of the old school.  Soundproofing, wiring for the equipment, lighting, minimizing electronic noise, and storage were just a few of the many details that had to be considered in the design.  One of the major problems to be addressed was the noise entering and leaving the room through the five windows and transom over the doorway.  Through research, the young men discovered Acoustical Surfaces, Inc. (ASI).  After much consultation with ASI representatives, Magnacoustic Windows were purchased for the studio.  The windows were easily installed by the young men and have achieved both the desired look and sound proofing that was anticipated.  It has proven to be a perfect solution, satisfying both the musicians and the historians.

The creation of this studio was inspired and led by the youth of the community and through their efforts over the last three years, this studio is now a reality.  This project has gotten many young people of the community involved in a way that has meaning and importance to them.  This project has also created a sense of ownership in this facility for the numerous youth who have been involved.  The Music Studio will provide opportunities for musicians of all ages to learn, practice, develop and refine their skills; it will provide those interested in the production of music to have access to quality equipment and learn what it takes to make and record music; and finally, it will continue to foster a sense of ownership in the community for those who are able to use and enjoy the Scharr-Ello Music Studio and the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center.  If you want more info go to