Campus marks a ‘major milestone’ with completion of Founders Building
By Laurelle Walsh
TwispWorks, the nonprofit “center for creative entrepreneurship” on 6 ½ acres in the heart of Twisp, celebrates the opening of the Bernard Hosey Founders Building with an open house during Art Walk on Saturday (May 23) from noon-4 p.m.
“It’s a major milestone getting this most signature building on campus renovated,” said Executive Director Amy Stork. The 6,700-square-foot building, formerly known as the North Warehouse, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and served as a seasonal fire warehouse for the Twisp Ranger District for around 70 years.
“It was never designed for winter occupancy,” said Stork, so improvements to the building included new windows, insulation, drywall and exits that are up to fire code. The seven rentable spaces — one in the basement and three each on the first and second floors — are heated and cooled separately, giving the tenants full climate control and independence.
“This building was ID’ed as our top renovation priority over the past few years,” Stork said. “It has certainly been transformed.”
One goal of the TwispWorks Foundation was to maintain the historic look of the Depression-era building while bringing it up to modern standards. In line with those goals, they managed to replace the original, wavy windowpanes with similar-looking energy-efficient windows and restored and reinstalled the top-hung interior warehouse doors.
A spacious deck, built by the Liberty Bell High School Careers in Construction Academy, has transformed the formerly flat facade, creating a welcoming entrance. The wooden deck railing is temporary and will be replaced by a custom wrought-iron railing by metalworker Jerry Merz.
To conserve interior space, a covered exterior staircase was added behind the building, which leads to the second floor. An access ramp — also built by the high school class — connects to the staircase landing, making the first floor wheelchair accessible.
Two new bathrooms and a shared kitchen — available for use by all campus partners — complete the common areas.
The cost of the project averaged around 50 cents per square foot, according to Stork. “It’s been a big push,” she said, gratified to see the project nearing completion.
Within the next two weeks, five new tenants will have moved into the Founders Building with two more “possibles,” Stork said. That leaves only one tenant-ready space open on campus: a 600-square-foot room on the second floor of the Founders Building. “Otherwise, there’s no other available space for rent at TwispWorks,” Stork said, but she encourages prospective tenants to enquire about spaces that may become available after further renovations.
“The next phase of building renovations on campus will be more challenging,” Stork said.
Campus partners in the Founders Building are the Methow Valley Clay Art Center, Door No. 3 print studio, upcycled clothing designer Elizabeth Drake, KTRT 97.5 FM “The Root,” and the Education Station.
With the help of seven Americorps members, Door No. 3 print studio was able to move everything from its former home in the Methow Valley Community Center into the Founders Building in one day. Everything, that is, except for its two giant printing presses — one at 1,400 pounds and the other weighing in at around 3,000 pounds — which got moved in pieces over 10 days. “The presses are getting reassembled and will be ready for this weekend,” said Door No. 3 co-owner Laura Gunnip.
“Moving gives us a chance to redefine our business,” Gunnip said. “It feels like fertile ground, a chance to cross-pollinate with other artists at TwispWorks.”
KTRT’s owner Don Ashford said the station’s new home on the second floor is “an amazing space, and certainly K-Root’s permanent home.”
Carpeting and sound proofing the space should be wrapped up sometime this week, Ashford said, but the process of moving will take some time, and the radio station will stay on the air as everything gets moved across campus. “We will have to work the bugs out before we begin broadcasting from the new space,” Ashford said.
The Education Station, located in the center of the first floor, is a new campus partner. It’s a classroom for all ages — from children to senior citizens — designed to host educational activities such as kids camps, elder hostels, language classes, dance classes or continuing education, according to coordinator Bo Thrasher.
The classroom, which seats 49, will have a permanent projector and screen and provide a home for those who don’t have a teaching space, said Thrasher. “I see the Education Station as another way for TwispWorks to fulfill its mission of promoting economic vitality in the Methow Valley,” Thrasher said.
Rental information may be found at twispworks.org. Click on “education station” under the partners and programs tab, or email email@example.com.
A vibrant campus
The rest of TwispWorks is bustling as well. Two new tenants will move into the Gateway Building in the next week and just last week the glass blowing studio Lucid Glassworks moved in next door to the Bunkhouse.
“We’re reaching critical mass, making campus feel vibrant and full,” said Stork. Around 35 people — TwispWorks staff and business owners and their employees — currently work on campus and “dozens of business licenses have been generated through TwispWorks,” Stork said.
Future campus improvements include transforming the vast expanse of asphalt into an outdoor campus center, with an information kiosk, landscaped plaza and pavilion designed by architect Brice Butler. “It will help orient visitors to what’s happening and make the center of campus more useable and accessible,” Stork said.
“TwispWorks is becoming an attraction in Twisp,” said Stork. “People who in the past would just drive by are stopping to find out what’s happening here. They’re getting off the highway and exploring Twisp.”