Downtown Barre Building Saved From Demolition
Now Home To SPA

By Janet Van Fleet

Studio Place Arts, Inc., affectionately known as "spa", is a non-profit community center for the visual arts. SPA and the Central Vermont Community Land Trust worked from the spring of 1998 through the end of 1999 to put together financing for the adaptive re-use of the Nichols Block in downtown Barre, Vermont. They built a money package that included a Community Development Block Grant, a loan from the Vermont Community Loan Fund, federal Historic Tax Credits, and local fundraising. Work on the $800,000 project began in the spring of 2000 and SPA expects to move into the building in October, 2000.

Studio Place Arts is commited to downtown revitalization, to making the visual arts accessible to people from all walks of life, and to welcoming creative ideas for programming from all interested community members. The facility includes a gallery and cafe in the first floor retail spaces, a three-room suite of classrooms for art instruction, and studios rented on a yearly basis by individual artists and arts groups. In addition to exhibits, workshops, classes, lectures, and discussion groups, SPA will offer opportunities for collaborations among artists and craftspeople from different disciplines, mentoring of talented young people, and apprenticeships for those interested in developing professional skills. The preservation and new use of this 110-year-old commercial building provides a three-fold benefit -- economic development, cultural enrichment, and community service.