A building that once was involved in housing the dead has been revived from its own seeming demise to become a center of creativity and enterprise in Downtown Springfield.
The former Metallic Casket Company administrative building at 105 N. Center St. had been vacant for several years, but in 2016, it was reborn as Hatch Artist Studios, with working spaces for artists to paint, sculpt, weave, draw, or pursue other creative ventures.
Kyra Taylor uses her space at Hatch to showcase her acrylic paintings, as well as poured-acrylic cups, tumblers, and trays. Because of Taylor’s busy schedule – she owns The Braiding Bar salon and teaches at a career center in Cincinnati – her time at Hatch kick-starts her creativity.
“It’s so hard to stay inspired and find time to do something you enjoy,” Taylor says. “Every month, when I leave here, I’m so inspired to go home and create.”
John Landess, executive director of The Turner Foundation, which owns the building, says artists pay studio rents between $165 to $600 a month, depending on size and location. The rental income recovers the building’s expenses, and artists get all utilities, 24-hour access, marketing help, and the support of a creative community.
Hatch has been near full occupancy continually since opening, with only three of the 32 spaces currently unused. It’s open to the public from 5 to 9 p.m. every First Friday.
The Turner Foundation bought the building in December 2009 to ensure it wasn’t demolished. The idea to make it a space for artists came about when a group working on downtown revitalization saw a similar project in a nearby community, Landess says.
Hatch, he says, along with Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company and other new shops and restaurants, has helped bring new life to downtown.
“I think it’s begun to get people to look at doing things in Springfield – generally and downtown specifically – when before they didn’t have much reason to come downtown,” Landess says.
Renovating the three-story, 15,000-square-foot structure cost about $1 million, which included replacing the roof and installing new plumbing, electric, and heating-cooling equipment, Landess says. The renovation didn’t include many cosmetic touches, as the building has plain metal or brick walls and exposed pipes and conduits.
“We wanted to keep it as minimalistic as possible, so it still had an industrial feel, in keeping with the building’s history,” he added.
Rod Hatfield and Brian Traylor run Hatch New Media, a videography company on the third floor. On First Fridays, their space as a lounge where bands perform alongside four massive screens. Hatfield says the videos they make help to create an “immersive experience” that takes guests on a metaphorical spaceship ride.
“Hatch Studios is a really unique creative space, so it’s a great place to showcase what we do,” Hatfield says. “It’s a great place to host and entertain our community and our clients.”
Hatfield sees the renewal of the casket company building as a spark helping to kindle the ongoing rebirth of the Springfield community.
“The Metallic Casket business was entombing remains for ever after,” he says. “The name Hatch was very deliberately chosen to be like a rebirth, a re-awakening, or like hatching a new idea.”