I am attracted to the reuse of old factory spaces.
Recently I was introduced to a new one, The Walk In Art Center in Schuylkill Haven. It was the Walkin Shoe Company, founded in 1887, and renovations have smartly kept reminders of the old factory. A line of industrial sewing machines caught my eye in particular. I worked in sewing factories for more than a dozen years, and used probably 2 dozen or more types. But these were ones I was completely unfamiliar with, as they were for sewing shoes.
I will include pictures of their holiday decor utilizing shoe lasts, thread stands, and other factory items.
There are many models for art centers. Walk In was founded by Albert R Evans, Jr, of Evans Delivery Company. It also takes advantage of partnerships with Schuylkill County Education Council and Penn State University for art classrooms and bathrooms on the second floor. There are artist’s studios, exhibition space, offices, and a future museum on the first floor dedicated to local industry. The rest of the facility was completed in 2013.
I am most familiar with GoggleWorks, in Reading, PA, which just celebrated its tenth anniversary. This is a very large art center in an abandoned Willson Safety Goggles factory. It includes artist’s studios, a gift shop, cafe, movie theater, 3 large exhibition galleries, offices, and classrooms — from hot glass, to carpentry to ceramics.
And I have visited the granddaddy of them all: Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia.
I’d appreciate your comments on other centers of this type.