The Fire House Gallery and Shop is housed in a handsome brick building, constructed in the ‘30’s, that has played a key role in Berryville, Virginia’s history—serving as its first fire house for more than two decades and town office for nearly 50 years.
Berryville Main Street, which created and manages the gallery, raised a combined total of $75,000 in grants and loans from the town and county as well as close to $25,000 in private contributions to:
Berryville Main Street is part of a nationwide initiative created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1985. The not-for-profit organization undertook this major restoration project in response to the National Trust’s mandate: to promote economic revitalization in small towns across the United States. Berryville is one of only two dozen towns in the state of Virginia to carry the prestigious Main Street designation.
Transformed into a bright and inviting retail space, the gallery opened for business on January 9, 2010, featuring high-quality handmade items from local and regional artists, including paintings, sculpture, fiber art, wood, stained glass, jewelry, pottery, works on paper, and more.
Left: Will Martindale, principal of Houseworks, the firm chosen to handle construction, is putting finishing touches on a custom cabinet he built — one of many pieces designed and created specifically for the new gallery.
Less than three months later, the Fire House debuted it first major show, Celebrating Open Space, honoring Clarke County’s agricultural heritage and vast scenic beauty. Since then, volunteer exhibit planners together with members of the community have conceived and created more than a dozen major exhibitions on subjects ranging from wood-turning to wearable art, offered 18 Art of Making Art educational programs featuring live demonstration from more than 25 artists, and launched four Community Supported Art initiatives showcasing the work of 12 gallery artists.
Right: Fiber Artist, Norma Colman creating one of her fabric collages as part of the gallery’s Saturday Art of Making Art demonstrations.
These endeavors contribute to the gallery’s ever-growing visitor counts now averaging around 2,000 a year.
In addition to adding a new retail destination to Berryville’s growing line-up of shops and stores, the gallery also contributes to the community’s knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the visual arts though live demonstrations, small shows, and major exhibits throughout the year.
Volunteers Rule … and also relax! At many not-for-profits, volunteers perform routine tasks, freeing full time employees to do the “heaving lifting.” At the Fire House Gallery volunteers ARE the staff, making up close to 90% of the total work force. And the tasks they perform are critical to its growth.
This photo was snapped at the 2014 volunteer summer gathering.
From left to right: Kate Petranech, Jeanne Krohn, Jo Russell, Jody Mussoff, Chantal Gabard, Kathy Pierson, Mary Mayhew, Patricia Perry, Diane Bartz, and Gail Cox. Missing: Rebecca Allen, Leslie Blackburn, Gary Fisher.