HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WFFT) — Brand new picnic tables and potted plants decorate the back courtyard of the Huntington Arts and Entrepreneurial Center.
Pathfinders and Republic Services helped beautify the downtown building Saturday.
Arts Center Director Katy Strass says it will benefit local artists, building residents and the general public.
"So it’s really important for economic development of the downtown area, and also just to promote arts and culture and keep things like that going in the community," Strass said.
The center displays work from local artists and will host art and cooking classes, but it wasn’t too long ago that the building’s future didn’t seem so fruitful.
"This was a site and a location that for a lot of folks in Huntington, they only saw problems here," Huntington Mayor Richard Strick said. "And what we saw through the collaboration was, how do we take this and make this a part of our story of reinvesting in ourselves and redeveloping and growing in a way that we renew our city?"
Strick says there were talks years ago of turning this area into a parking lot, but he and Nicole Hahn with Pathfinders agree that this center is a much better investment.
"If you look around this building, you couldn’t imagine that they would think about tearing it down. So much work has been done to this building, and it’s so historical and so beautiful," Hahn said. "And to be able to be a part of keeping something historic in Downtown Huntington is fantastic for the Arts Center, for the LaFontaine Arts Council and for Pathfinders Services."
Strick says the city, Pathfinders, and several other groups put almost $10 million into the developing the Arts Center.
Now, he’s excited to see it impact people on a personal level.
"The piece that I’m probably most excited about aside from the economics of it, which is great, as well as the arts and culture piece of it which is excellent as well, is really the deeper thread of helping people grow through art," Strick said.
Art which is now hanging right in the center of town.
Strick says he’s excited to finally showcase the Arts Center to the public, after COVID-19 delayed the process last year.