The Rouss Center is located in one of the historic buildings within the New Market Historic District. The building was originally the New Market Fire Department and town offices on its first floor. On the second floor, the building supported an impressive Opera House which offered cultural experiences to the town citizens and outlying residents. Charles Broadway Rouss, asking for a donation to aid the town in constructing the building. The Town, even today, feels that it owes much to Charles Broadway Rouss who provided significant funding for the Town Hall.
Mr. Rouss was not a resident of New Market, but a New York dry goods distributor who wanted to see cultural activities in the areas he serviced. According to local tradition, Mr. Rouss responded to a local retailer’s request for financial assistance with a gift of $2500.00, and the stipulation that the building should include an opera house.
Through several iterations as the fire department, town offices, council chambers, business offices, and even a residence, the building returned to one of its original functions – that as a theatre for the arts – in 2007, when it opened for business as a recording studio and venue for entertainment groups. Since that time, it has hosted individual and group performances, private parties, and for the past six years as a performing theatre group.
The building is privately owned and rented to those using its facilities. The Rouss Center for the Arts is the present theatre group. The group was officially formed on September 8, 2016. The theatre is managed and operated entirely by volunteers and all funding is from ticket sales and donations or grants awarded to the corporation. Some of the first-floor space will be made available to participants on the Shenandoah Artisan Trail to help defray the costs for the building.