By WAYLON CUNNINGHAM
It’s ideal for seminars and staff meetings, fundraisers and family gatherings, Bunco nights, book clubs and birthday parties. Any and all sorts of happenings, really, that could fit inside an 1,100-square-foot space.
The new Liberty Hill Learning & Event Center provides an all-purpose venue that can be rented out for as low as $55 an hour.
Its features include an advanced audio/visual equipment system with a 10-foot projector screen. Vaulted ceilings top the walls spanned for the most part by full-sized windows, which provide natural light from an enormous view of the nearby fields. For PowerPoint presentations and other times that might require a darkened room, they can be closed remotely with electronically-controlled blinds. And, owing to the original education-oriented vision, the venue’s top-speed internet is offered through wi-fi and many ethernet ports.
An outdoor area extends out to a secluded back area behind the building it shares with Liberty Hill Dental. The area includes a zen-influenced water sculpture and a small open kitchen with a barbecue grill. It is best taken advantage, said Events Coordinator Nicole Jones, during hot Texas summer nights. (Relatedly, the interior’s air conditioning system is nearly silent).
Jones, who stays on-site for events, said the venue is “perfect for anything from class reunions to literary clubs and weddings. Or on the business side, think of seminars, classes and meetings.
“It’s really all-purpose,” she said. “We’re waiting to see people use their imagination with the space.”
Jones said that the prices were set to be “easy and affordable for anyone.” The space rents for $55 an hour on weekdays, and $90 on weekends — both with a two-hour minimum.
The space has not been open for long. In fact, Jones said it is more accurate to say that the Learning & Event Center has pursued a “soft, gradual opening” since January. The outdoor lights were hung four weeks ago. The granite countertops in the kitchen area arrived three weeks ago. And within the week, they plan to erect the sign out front and activate the website.
The space was opened by Dr. Thad Gillespie of Liberty Hill Dental. The two buildings not only share the same lot off State Highway 29, but are practically connected. The Learning & Event Center extends the sleek, ultramodern aesthetic of the dental practice’s new facility, which opened in October 2015.
Gillespie, a Texas native and Air Force Veteran, says he was inspired after his friend John Clark could not find an appropriate local venue for the seminars and workshops he teaches. At the same time, Gillespie’s own Dental Genius Assisting School, which trains students to become dental assistants, was also encountering the same problem.
“There were huge venues for events like weddings, and there were little bitty conference rooms. But there wasn’t anything in the middle,” Gillespie said. “So from the beginning, the vision was a place where we can have events, meetings, tutoring and anything else you can think of.”
Stemming from Clark’s requests, Gillespie saw to it that the building would include education-oriented features such as the remotely controlled blinds and easily-accessible internet ports.
The space, Clark said, has proven to be more than well-suited for his needs. As a life and business coach, he teaches workshops for Sun Up University, an internal employee training program. He works out of a dedicated office located in the back of the building.
One such upcoming class, for the upper management of the company, will help its students understand how they might self-define success in their own lives.
Last Thursday, Clark was busy preparing for the class. He had ordered 20 cushioned chairs to be delivered and assembled in time for it. These particular chairs, he said, were chosen to match the decor of the space.
Far from a simple detail, the neutral, unassuming look of the room is noteworthy in itself. Designed with “style and flexibility in mind,” its few acute details include a large metal clock, several plants, and a sculpture of a white horse head.
“We didn’t want the room to look too sterile,” Gillespie said, “but at the same time, we didn’t want to push you in any particular direction per se. We wanted to make it comfortable for any kind of event.”
Those who have used the venue so far include a photography class, a concealed handgun carry seminar, a staff meeting for the administration of the upcoming Rancho Siena Elementary School.