2013-05-15 / Front Page

Ice House work almost done

by Kate Shunney

Morgan Arts Council officials hope the Ice House, the former cold storage building that has housed arts programs since 1996, will reopen for events in late June. Their target is to be open in time for the annual Quilt Show, planned for June 21.

Extensive interior work has kept the 40,000-square-foot concrete and masonry building closed since December 2012.

Renovations have encompassed about 10,000 square feet of the building, which dates back to 1910.

Inside, contractors have upgraded the water piping, heating and air conditioning systems, built new bathroom suites on the first and second floors, added handicapped accessibility features like ramps and handrails, and moved some of the interior walls.

A new “wet” classroom was created on the north side of the building, where bathrooms and an old classroom was located. The new room allows artists and their students to create work that requires wet work, like dyeing fabric. A bank of sinks and new windows add art-friendly features that the facility was missing before.

Work continues inside the Ice House art center. Ramps and railings are part of the upgrades. Work continues inside the Ice House art center. Ramps and railings are part of the upgrades. Stairwells leading to the second floor have been reconfigured to improve access to upper rooms, like the dance studio, future green room for actors and community meeting space.

Doing it right

Anne Beckley, MAC’s Executive Director, said the improvements were made with a final design in mind.

Contractors have added chases, or channels, in the walls to accommodate future plumbing pipes, electrical wiring and other building infrastructure needed when the upper two floors become usable.

Other upgrades being done right now include new lighting and fire alarms.

While final plans for the building’s four floors will include a permanent theater and significantly more space for art classes or studios, that work is slated for years down the road as funding becomes available.

This project was budgeted at $418,000, said Beckley. State fire marshal on-site input into this phase of improvements has tacked another $90,000 onto the current project, said Beckley.

Capital funding has come from individual donors, MAC’s naming opportunity program, a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and a West Virginia Cultural Facilities grant. More fundraising will follow.

Key to future expansion will be the addition of a wholebuilding sprinkler system, which itself is estimated to cost $250,000.

Partners mean progress

The forward motion of the renovations is due, in large part, to many community partners and volunteers, according to Beckley.

“I’ve been excited by the community coming together to get this done,” she said.

Several local businesses have donated or given the arts council rock-bottom prices on carpeting, one or two appliances for the building’s “break room,” paint and lighting.

The Hancock Arts Council has also assisted by offering to store many of the Ice House theatre costumes while work continues.

All items from the third and fourth floors have to be taken out of the building until it has a full fire-suppression system, so volunteers have also helped by emptying out salvage metal and old items.

More work continues. The Ice House will be open for a community painting day this Saturday and Sunday, May 18- 19, beginning at 9 a.m.. Volunteers are welcome to join in and get the building even closer to re-opening. MAC will supply lunch and materials for those willing to get a little dirty.

“We’re anxious to get it open again – it’s a cornerstone for economic development and tourists want to come here,” said Beckley.

The Morgan Arts Council can be reached at 304-258- 2300.

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