When Knox Heritage made its move from the Carriage House to its new location at Westwood, attention turned to finding a new location for the salvage room. Huddled in a very small portion of the carriage house, it had gone from being impossible to workable, but insufficient. With the lease expiring, Knox Heritage, and Beth Meadows who manages the operation, had to find a larger, more functional location. 619 Broadway seems to fit the bill.
The building is located in an area I seem to be writing about quite a bit. Just out the back door both the site for Bar Marley and Maker’s Donuts are just a few yards away. Several other projects are blossoming in this area and I really feel it will be one of the hottest downtown areas within the next year. The building also offers Knox Heritage and the Salvage Shop to expand their vision.
Beth Meadows whose official title is “Architectural Salvage Coordinator,” though she laughed when she told me that and said, “we made that up,” seems to have enough ideas to keep her busy for years. The primary focus will remain the same: Recycle architectural salvage to prevent it from becoming landfill. To that end, they will now be able to take a much larger amount of the discarded material because they have a very large space both to display a portion of it and to store more in the basement.
In addition to that role, the building will also serve to support local artists. When the space has been completed, eight to ten artists will have studio space. While a couple have moved in, others will have to wait for further renovations to be completed. Beth is an accomplished artist in her own right – her UT degree is in Studio Art – so she’ll have studio space in addition to office space to further her With Bear Hands art brand. Additionally, artists may apply to have their art displayed in the front, gallery section of the building. The intention is to have events at least every other First Friday.
In addition to supporting artists, the building will be used to support woodworkers and to allow the salvage to be customized. Patrons may take their purchases and book time in the fully equipped woodworking shop located in the lower, rear portion of the building. The shop will be available to anyone for a fee provided they complete a training course. Customers may also commission the work to be done by the manager of the wood shop, Austin Ferber. Austin is an advanced woodworker who focuses on primarily on functional pieces.
Beth exudes excitement as she talks about the possibilities and she shares a passion for the goals of Knox Heritage. I asked her how an art student came to be a fully-employed preservationist. She said during school she was living Maplehurst in a building that was not cared for and literally falling apart, which spawned her interest in protecting older architecture. She became an intern for Knox Heritage in 2008, an administrative assistant in 2009 and took over the salvage operation in 2010.
Future plans include art classes, woodworking classes and open studio events though, for now, those will remain on the drawing board. More pressing concerns include the need to build shelving, paint and plaster walls, replace air conditioners, purchase equipment like trailers for hauling salvage and dollies for moving it. Partitions need to be built to give artists some privacy. Once everything is in place, the building will provide space for eight to ten artists, seven or more woodworkers and two staff members, bringing the total to near twenty people using the space.
Numerous people have provided support in one fashion or another. Russ Walker and Knox Revival Paint Company have agreed to do the plaster work and painting in the front room. Dale Mackey edited the video you see below. Nostalgia has given them a booth at no cost. You’ll find their salvage windows and doors inside Suttree’s. Numerous businesses and individuals such as Magpies have stepped up to offer items for their rewards in their current fundraising campaign.
Which brings up the help they need from you. If you like what you’ve read here and support what they are doing, they need your financial help. As generous as so many people have been, there are numerous needs that require cash. They are attempting to raise a very modest $15,000 through a Kickstarter Campaign. With two weeks left, they need about $7500 additional pledges to meet their goal.
I’ll end with that video I mentioned and let Beth tell you the story. There will also be a grand re-opening next week, April 3 for First Friday. Beth and Austin will have their work on display, you can see the space and you may make your tax deductible donation that night – or at the Kickstarter link above – or both! Show them some love as they do good things for the city.