History & Founding of the Arts Center

The Clifton Arts Center opened its doors in 2000, after nearly two decades of planning and vision, as a forum to support the arts locally and nationally.

The 14 brick barns found today in the Clifton Municipal Complex grounds were originally built in the late nineteenth century and were used as a private dairy farm.  At the start of the twentieth century the US Government was searching for a site to expand its Animal Quarantine Station for hoofed animal entry into the US, and selected nearly 50 acres in the nearby town of Athenia, which is now the City of Clifton.

The Quarantine Station operated for three-quarters of a century.  Hoofed animals, birds from overseas, cattle, race horses, giraffes, camels and even musk oxen from the Scandinavian tundra arrived by rain and truck.  In 1979, the Quarantine Station moved to larger quarters.  In anticipation of this move, the City of Clifton purchased the property in 1966 for $670,000.  The property now includes the Clifton Animal Shelter, Adult Opportunity Center, Senior Center, Recycling Center and the Clifton Arts Center which is comprised of two of the historic barns connected to a modern atrium and is listed on the American Register of Historic Places.

The origins of the Clifton Arts Center date back to the early 1980’s and the Barns Museum-Workshop Committee, led by Rita Cadorin-Foti and other City officials. The principal achievement of that committee was to build the modern building, connecting the two historic barns of the Center.In 1997, the City of Clifton formed a steering group to map out the usage of the two barns and new atrium. The committee was led by Councilwoman Gloria Kolodziej, whom the Arts Center was named for upon her retirement from the Clifton City Council in 2010.

Jeff Labriola, current president, initiated the formation of two boards - Clifton Arts Center Advisory Board of Trustees, appointed by the Mayor and Council and the Clifton Arts Center, Inc.  a separate 501c3 nonprofit organization responsible for fundraising efforts to benefit the Arts Center. Clifton Arts Center, Inc. was chartered on August 17, 1998.  The first Clifton Arts Center Advisory Board of Trustees meeting was held on August 17, 1998.

Photo of the interior of one of the quarantine barns in its original use

Photo of the interior of one of the quarantine barns in its original use