Ripley's old pool house transformed into Compton Center for arts, crafts

By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel

RIPLEY – The Compton Center has been transformed to be the Young At Heart Club’s new arts and crafts building.
A recent event celebrated the transformation of the building, which from 1963 to 2005 was Ripley Park’s Old Pool House.
The former pool house now boasts four rooms, a bathroom and kitchen, and three storage closets. The pool area has been transformed into a memorial garden for the Ripley Garden Club. Plants and trees can be donated in memory of someone, according to Betty Holland, who is in charge of the donation program.
Young at Heart is a city-sponsored organization of about 75 members, open to men and women 50 and up.
Meeting in the nearby Ripley Park Gym, Young at Heart offers far more than arts and crafts, however. The group offers walking in the air-conditioned gym, low-impact aerobics, water exercise at the Tippah County Hospital Wellness Center pool, men’s exercise, square dancing and pot-luck suppers.
For those who enjoy arts and crafts, the Compton Center is the place to be. The new facility lets club members fellowship and create assorted arts and crafts, according to Kim Hellums, is Young at Heart’s program coordinator.
The group produces a wide range of crafts, including woodworking, painting, floral arrangements, sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, door and mailbox decorations, necklaces, baby blankets, banners, aprons and has assembled cookbooks. The group also sells some of what it produces. “We just share ideas,” Hellums said.
Young at Heart’s wares can be viewed in a special area inside the building.
“The biggest advantage the renovated building offers is that it gives the crafters more room and time to work on their projects,” Hellums said. “We can be organized and more productive. We hope those advantages will encourage people to participate in the program.”
The renovation’s price-tag was about $20,000. Young at Heart raised about $11,500 through donations, yard sales and craft sales. Young at Heart also hosted a political stumping and auctioned off cakes. The city of Ripley donated about $8,500 for the project, and city employees helped with the work.
The Center was named for Ben Compton, an Air Force retiree who is a Young at Heart member. He recognized the need for the center and was responsible for figuring out a way to create it, Hellums said.
“He saw that the ladies needed to have a place where they could work on their craft projects,” Hellums said. “We were having to bring everything down from upstairs to work on projects for two hours, then clean them up and store them upstairs until next week, then do it all over again. It was a lot of work for just two hours a week.”