Watch Our Journey Unfold
We Found a Home
Karen Desrosiers had a vision for an arts center that would have a central focus of creating and supporting community, that would be a vortex of positive energy. But the space, the home, for this vision had to be right. What could be better than a yellow Victorian and historic property, in the beautiful seacoast area of New Hampshire? In November 2019, Desrosiers found space at the historic Lane House in Hampton, signed a lease, and the Lane House Arts Center was born. And, then the work began.
The impressive Victorian was built by Howard and Sarah Hobbs Lane in 1900.
The space had been offices for Foss Performance Materials, but had been vacant for years. It had been used for storage and was a mess, but we saw it as a blank slate full of potential. It was not long before the clean up started and the space began to really shine. (But we were anxious for that green to go.)
December was an exercise in paperwork... miles and miles of paperwork, between the lease, town, and state.
January 2020 was all about the construction, preparing the space and building the walls. The green was replaced with a beautiful white, and the floors were cleaned, buffed, and sealed.
January was also spent doing even more paperwork for the town. A "change of use" had to be filed with the planning board, as this is a historic building. And then the paperwork was filed for the building permit.
The contractors put in a heroic effort to build out the studios at a break-neck pace. During the process we found out that the furnace had died, though I hadn't noticed. The cold temperatures in the center made for very slow drying of the dry wall mudding. But, step-by-step, it came together.
After much problem solving, constructing, priming, painting, and cleaning, the arts center was completed in February 2020. The first couple of artists moved into their studios in February, with everyone else following by the beginning of March. And then it was time to load the gallery with art work.
Loading up the gallery with art work was perhaps one of the best parts of the whole process. There's nothing quite like surrounding yourself with the gorgeous creations of your fellow artists.
As March progressed, we remained on schedule. Just as we were planning a "soft" opening of the gallery and a grand opening celebration in April, our plans - as well as the state, nation, and world - came to a screeching halt, as Covid-19 demanded a series of stay-at-home orders and closing of all non-essential businesses.
Now, I would be the first to argue that, in fact, art and a center dedicated to creativity and all the positive energy that comes with it is absolutely essential. But, the safety and health of our artists, friends, and patrons dictated that we put everything on hold and hunker down to wait it out. We basically went into a hibernation phase. (Note to self: maybe don't try opening a business during a pandemic.)
In late May, we got back to work organizing, planning, and preparing to open in our new way of getting through the world, with Covid-19 protocols and policies in place, with an aim to be "soft" open by mid-June.