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Archive for Sunday, December 16, 2007

Out of the woods

Fundraising to transform lumberyard into arts site

Diane Niehoff, president of the Lumberyard Arts Center board of directors, walks through the former lumberyard at 718 High St. in Baldwin City. She and others hope to turn the site into an arts center. Niehoff says she expects fundraising to pick up on the project next year.

Diane Niehoff, president of the Lumberyard Arts Center board of directors, walks through the former lumberyard at 718 High St. in Baldwin City. She and others hope to turn the site into an arts center. Niehoff says she expects fundraising to pick up on the project next year.

December 16, 2007

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Lumberyard Arts Center

Diane Niehoff talks about the project Enlarge video

The architectural plans for the Lumberyard Arts Center.

The architectural plans for the Lumberyard Arts Center.

Diane Niehoff, president of the Lumberyard Arts Center board of directors, is leading efforts to turn the former lumberyard at 718 High St., Baldwin City, into an arts venue. The 8,000-square-foot lumberyard closed in 2002.

Diane Niehoff, president of the Lumberyard Arts Center board of directors, is leading efforts to turn the former lumberyard at 718 High St., Baldwin City, into an arts venue. The 8,000-square-foot lumberyard closed in 2002.

Aan exterior view of the future Lumberyard Arts Center.

Aan exterior view of the future Lumberyard Arts Center.

Holiday art sale

When: 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Lumberyard Arts Center, 718 High St., Baldwin City

Why: To raise funds for the Arts Center project

— Mostly, this old lumberyard still looks like a lumberyard.

Aged wooden beams crisscross the large room where trucks used to drive through to load up with supplies. Handwritten signs still hang, advertising the price of lumber.

Laura Dickinson has a vision for a day when paintings will line these walls, children will learn to dance and musicians will stand on stage in front of appreciative audiences.

But that's not the case. Not yet.

"It's hard to be patient," Dickinson says. "You just want to hurry up and get it done, but it doesn't work that way. If you want this to be qualitative, there has to be an evolution."

That evolution - turning the defunct lumberyard into the Lumberyard Arts Center - may have been slow-going. But Dickinson, who is vice president of the center's board of directors, and Diane Niehoff, who is the president, say they expect 2008 to mark a major push toward getting the project done.

And, at least for now, that means one thing: money.

"The primary goal for the next year will be fundraising," Niehoff says. "It's one of the things we've been putting off."

Phased approach

The lumberyard, 718 High St., was built in 1914 and housed the Ives-Hartley Lumber Co. The lumberyard closed in 2002, leaving the 8,000-square-foot building empty.

It's owned by Baldwin State Bank, though the center's organization has a contract to purchase it once half the funds for renovation have been raised.

"We're into saving old things," Niehoff says of her committee. "Once it had closed, there was talk of it becoming offices. But we wanted to do something to keep downtown alive and vibrant, and to preserve the old building."

At first, the effort was led by the Baldwin Community Arts Council, but a separate nonprofit organization was formed last year.

The first stage of the project - expected to cost around $550,000 - includes constructing a gallery, classrooms, restrooms and offices that will house the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce. It also will renovate the center area of the building to be a commons space that can be rented out for events.

A second phase, expected to cost an additional $500,000, would add a 164-seat theater in the back of the building.

Architectural plans were completed by Paul Werner Architects of Lawrence. They were based, in part, by suggestions made several years ago by architecture students at Kansas State University.

So far, about $200,000 has been raised, including grants from the Douglas County Community Foundation and Rice Foundation. Other events - such as a holiday art sale going on today - have slowly raised more money.

"We've come to the realization that we'll have to do this in phases," Niehoff says. "We're not raising money fast enough. But there has been shown there's a real need for this project."

Moving forward

Jim Niehoff, Diane's husband and construction manager of the project, says the old lumberyard appears to be in good condition.

"We won't really know until we start tearing the walls out," he says.

The end building, Diane Niehoff says, will blend the character of the old building with the functions of a modern art center.

"We want to keep it as much like the old building as possible," she says.

Dickinson, the board's vice president, says she thinks Baldwin City has a large number of artistic activities going on for a community its size. Often, she says, people have to drive to Lawrence to get the classes they want.

"People get locked into thinking it's just painting and photography," she says. "It would offer so many opportunities. To me, there are no boundaries to what can be offered once it's up and running. It will provide a great launch place for enhancing what the already-existing arts in the community and a place for the community to grow."

Niehoff says the board has been focused on other tasks - like organizing occasional classes and starting the nonprofit organization - have captured too much of the board's attention.

Now, she says, 2008 can be the time to get the project going in earnest.

"I'm confident," Niehoff says.

Comments

GretchenJP 7 years, 1 month ago

Bucky's has never been the same since Duane sold it. But it was steal my favorite ice cream/greasy burger place.

GretchenJP 7 years, 1 month ago

It was still my favorite ice cream/greasy burger place I mean. It's late, I'm tired.

sunflowerks54 7 years, 1 month ago

What a great idea! Why don't you get some of the local square dance clubs involved to help raise money and put on a demonstration? It looks like a perfect place to dance! Maybe some of the contra clubs and other local bands could help out!

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 1 month ago

Trust me on this one. It is a boondoggle of the first order. The effort is mainly driven by the ego of one particular person who is well known in Baldwin City for pushing this at the expense of well-reasoned opinion to the contrary. The cost to do what they want would be staggering for the very small space that would result from the effort. They should look to knock down the aging structure and build a real building if a single-function performing arts space is really what is needed. Take a million photos of the facade and make a permanent photo exhibit to the old building, but put it out of its misery for heaven's sake.

JayCat_67 7 years, 1 month ago

Speaking of historic businesses, does anyone know what happened to Bucky's. Was gonna have lunch there today and the big sign said "closed" and paper signs posted in the window were thanking the community for their years of support. Is it for sale, or has it already been purchased with the intent of razing it for something else? Sorry to change the subject, but I can find nothing about it. Oh OK just to stay with the thread, if this lady can come up with the funds to pull this off, more power to her. If it fails... well that's the risk of investing.

GretchenJP 7 years, 1 month ago

Bucky's is gone?!?!?! NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!! Say it isn't so!!!!

GretchenJP 7 years, 1 month ago

OMG... Bucky's had the BEST ice cream and greasy burgers in town. The owner's daughter used to babysit me! I'm so sad.

JayCat_67 7 years, 1 month ago

Yep, I'm hoping that there is something soon about Bucky's in the paper or something. It seemed like it was usually pretty busy, so it may be a worthwhile investment if that is still an option and there isn't something seriously wrong with the building structurally. I just hope it reopens soon.
Oh, and by the way Py, methinks you be referrin' to that scurvy county to the east. Lot's O' fine "development" there.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 1 month ago

Do a search in the archives. I think there was an article about the owner wanting to sell several months ago.

GretchenJP 7 years, 1 month ago

The only article I was able to find in the archives was when Duane Buck sold Bucky's and retired in 2004. Nothing more recently than that. It was his daughter, Debbie, that babysat me. And I'm 38 now!! I remember when Bucky's used to be called Sandy's.

reason 7 years, 1 month ago

Back to Buckys--the last time i was there a month ago i ordered a ice cream , peanut parfait--it was awful they cut the size down to half of what it was when Bucks ran the place-i miss the old Buckys and the owners then were always nice and great people

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