WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Monmouth Building Chosen for Artist Studios

Mar 22, 2012

After months of study, the Spurgeons building on South Main Street in Monmouth was selected to house artist studios and a retail shop to sell their work.

The choice was made by city representatives and members of ArtSpace, which is a non-profit arts development and consulting organization from Minneapolis.

The Spurgeons building has a limestone front and was built in 1940.

“It's really a great space. You walk in and you kind of go 'Wow, I can see this,'” said Susan Twomey, Director of the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth.

“Our forefathers here left us a great legacy of all these gorgeous buildings. We're going to build them up and revitalize them, using the arts as a really great economic driver and incubator.”

The Spurgeons building has been part of the city's downtown district since the 1940s. It housed a JC Penney store for many years. It most recently was used by the furniture rental store Term City.

Twomey said plan is to use the mezzanine level for the studios and the first floor as the retail gallery. The first floor could also incorporate a coffee kiosk and perhaps a small kiosk for art supplies.

She believes the new art center will complement the Buchanan Center rather than compete with it. She hopes it will draw new restaurants and retailers to the downtown.

“Other communities who have done this have been able to really change the dynamics of their downtown and I have every reason to believe that we won't be the exception. We'll be able to move forward at a good pace,” Twomey said.

Twomey said project organizers now need to find someone to buy the building and renovate it. She said several options are being explored. One of them is to have the city buy it.

She hopes the new art center can open as soon as next year.