For almost a century, the brick church on the corner of Elma Street and Centre Avenue served as a gathering place for the Okotoks community - a place to worship, gain inspiration and where music and praise filled the rafters. Although no longer a church, the facility continues to be a gathering place for celebration and inspiration in its new role as the Rotary Performing Arts Centre.
The building was originally the Methodist Church, built in 1906 at a cost of $5,100. It became the Okotoks United Church in 1917 when the Methodist and Presbyterian congregations joined together. As the town grew, so did the congregation and in 2002, members of the Okotoks United Church had outgrown their space and they made the difficult decision to put their beloved church up for sale.
The Okotoks Arts Council (OAC), together with the administrative support and driving spirit of the Town's Cultural and Historical Services Team Leader Tracy Ward, led the movement to purchase the former United Church and turn the facility into a theatre. The OAC contributed $39,000 to the building's purchase and renovation, and sought the assistance of other community groups to help raise additional funds. Several community not-for-profit groups contributed. The Okotoks and District Historical Society donated $61,000. Grants from Okotoks Family and Community Support Services, Calgary Foundation, Alberta Arts Touring Alliance, Arts Presentation Canada, Heritage Canada, and Community Initatives Program totalled $58,000. The Rotary Club of Okotoks donated $55,000. The Dewdney Players donated $7,000. At project completion, the purchase and renovation was valued at $360,000, including the donation of time. Once the purchase and renovation was complete, the OAC turned the building over to the Town of Okotoks to operate.
After an investigation, Town staff determined that the building's foundation was severely compromised, and in 2009 the building underwent a $1 million structural stabilization funded by three levels of government. The community's treasured RPAC opened to the public in November 2010, featuring The Dewdney Players' production of "Sorry Wrong Chimney." The Town organized an official re-opening that took place on the weekend of February 25th to 27th, 2011.