By Ben Olson
A year ago, on Aug. 12, the staff at the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint took the first step of many toward establishing itself as an epicenter of art and music when organizers purchased the building at 110 Main St. in downtown Sandpoint.
Prior to the purchase, MCS rented the historic site on the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street for a decade. The building has a storied history: as a former site of City Hall, a fire station, a police department and even a jail. MCS Executive Director Karin Wedemeyer said it is exactly this historic significance that has inspired renovation plans to transform the building and street-side gathering space into an interactive art/music space and recital hall.
“We want to create a place of interactivity and cultural participation,” Wedemeyer told the Reader.
MCS has divided the transformation into three potential phases, with Kris Contor from Sandpoint’s Architecture 311.5 firm taking the helm for designing and planning.
Phase 1 will focus on opening and replacing the sliding garage doors, where fire engines once entered and exited the building for emergency calls.
“The original doors were actually swinging doors,” Contor told the Reader. “It used to house horse-drawn fire wagons. There was a stable in there and stalls, too.”
Once opened, the doors will provide sidewalk access for the Little Carnegie concert hall, which is also slated to be revamped.
“The space will become mixed use, including the gallery and recital space so people can interact, hear students perform and rehearse, as well as come inside to see the beautiful artwork,” Wedemeyer said.
Contor said Phase 1 would involve not just the fire doors, but removing a suspended ceiling and ductwork above it, as well as electrical and lighting maintenance. The floor will also need to be leveled and brought up.
Wedemeyer said the first phase is scheduled to begin as soon as funding is secured. She estimates it will take about $50,000 to open the doors and remove the ceiling and another $100,000 to remodel the Little Carnegie Hall space. As soon as Phase 1 is complete, Wedemeyer said MCS will slowly enter Phases 2 and 3.
Phase 2 will see a renovation of the internal areas, including office space, with an emphasis on preserving the historical elements.
“The outside of the building is still historically significant, but there’s very little of the inside that has any historical significance,” Contor said. “The new doors that will be installed will be more representative to the historic doors to the building. We’re trying to be careful about maintaining the historical facade of the building.”
“Everything original to the building we are going to preserve,” Wedemeyer added. “One of our main visions is to protect this historic building and also for the community to add as many features of its past as possible.”
Phase 2 will also likely see renovation to upstairs office spaces, as well as redoing the outdoor portal and front entryway.
Wedemeyer said the restoration of the historic bell tower will likely be saved for Phase 3. MCS plans to preserve its architectural integrity while opening up the space for an exciting new development.
“We will create a rooftop performance space,” she said. “Under the bell tower would be a little stage.”
To accomplish this goal during Phase 3, MCS will need to install an elevator. They also plan to install solar panels and a rooftop garden to make this unique space a reality.
Wedemeyer said elements like solar panels are in line with MCS’s plan to embrace green technology.
“It’s really important for me that the building is as green as possible,” she said. “We’re wanting to address how we can turn this building into a zero carbon footprint building with solar.”
As for the funding, Wedermeyer said, “We are working with some organizations who are looking to fund us opening the doors — that’s the first step. …
“It’s a really exciting plan,” she added. “Any time we can create anticipation and hope, it will help us through difficult times. And we are in difficult times, so we hope this is something for people to look forward to.”
To learn more, or to donate toward MCS’s renovation plans, visit sandpointconservatory.org.
While we have you ...
... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.
You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal