R.H. MERCANTILE GETS NEW LIFE
An Interview with Anne Rogers - her grand vision for 4 Fowler Street in Downtown Port Jervis
The building you have selected is absolutely amazing, please explain some of what your understanding is of this building in the past?
Most of my information is just from stories people have shared or from the pictures that are hanging on the walls at The Erie. It seems that originally it had multiple stores and a bar going across the space with offices and a music school upstairs. It was Markovits Brothers grocery store. You could see the fading in the wood floors from where all the rows of shelving were. Most intriguing to me is that there was an opera house on the top floor. I would love to be able to go back in time to see that. To make that a theater again would be amazing.
You and Paul have an incredible eye for design and there is no doubt the end product is going to be cool, what is your current vision for the groundfloor space?
Thank you. Paul and I work really well together and we have a lot years between us in various fine arts and building. He has been so supportive in making my dream come together. I couldn’t do it without him, or my manager Carrie Jordan. My vision is to have a space where fine artists and crafters have a safe place to come and create their work. A version of an open studio concept. I want to build a community where we all help each other to grow and support one another with our work. There will be retail space for everyones pieces to be sold so customers can come in and buy our work. I would also love people to come in just get inspired and learn. I get so excited just at the thought of all the potential creativity that could be under one roof.
One of the greatest features of the downstairs space is the Mezzanine, what is your vision for the mezzanine?
There was very little 2nd floor so I just had to build that out more and not lose the potential that area had to offer. I didn’t want to add a whole second floor because I love the amazing feeling of the openness 20 foot high ceilings gives you. The Mezzanine will be a gallery space to show off peoples work, it will have a lounge area, and I’m sure we will include events of sorts as well. Things will be ever changing and growing as the space comes alive. One day, I would like to create an Artist in Residence program on the upper floor/s, so all of this ties together with a main goal of supporting the arts.
Old buildings come with a lot of character, but also come with a lot of challenges, what have been some of the challenges thus far and what have been some of your design solutions?
I love old buildings, so I am doing my best to not change the bones of the building and to actually reveal some that have been hidden away for years. I would say that my biggest heartbreak is having to add flooring. There is beautiful wood on the first floor, but there is no sub flooring and quite a bit of damage, so it’s just not possible to avoid adding more layers. Jamie Fedorick is adding new wood floors and also patching holes on the third floor. Jamie is such a kindred (artist) spirit and is so passionate about what he does, which in my opinion is just as much an art form as an Old Masters Painter. He certainly is as maticulous.
My other biggest hurdle has been the windows or the lack of. You can see where all the old doors and storefront windows were, and they were all different shapes and sizes. So, I had to design a window that would compliment the history of the space, and not drive me crazy conflicting too much with the original outlines. Thank goodness I have Paul's unbelievable skills in metal fabrication. Our friend Ash who has been a life saver and I can not forget Carrie, who thank goodness is not afraid to get dirty, always wanting to learn and she got skills. I am so excited about the windows, I don’t even have words……Can I just tell you how much I hate glass bricks? No back story, I couldn’t even tell you why, but I can’t stand them, so good riddance. If anyone is in need of glass bricks, I have tons…….
Anne is currently taking applications from artists and specialty retailers, you can find more information at www.thebeastproject.com. Anne can be reached via email AnneRogers@thebeastproject.com.