Thursday, July 9, 2020

Village Arts Factory project awarded honor by state preservation network

What is now known as the Village Arts Factory 
started as a dilapidated industrial warehouse.
The Partnership for Arts & Humanities in Canton Township recently received the 2020 Government/Institution Award from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network.
The award was granted for the work of the group on the rehabilitation and revitalization of the Cherry Hill Ford Factory complex, located in Cherry Hill Village.
The Partnership for the Arts & Humanities is a small nonprofit that took on a very big challenge in the Cherry Hill Village. What is now known as the Village Arts Factory started as a dilapidated industrial warehouse.
The ramshackle building was once the site of Henry Ford's final, most unique and least publicized industry. Unlike other village-based industries Ford operated, he dedicated this one to providing employment and residence opportunities to disabled veterans of World War II.

 Officials at the Partnership made a commitment, in rehabilitating the property, to remain true to the roots and history of the site. The Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund will be occupying the old veterans' dormitory, which serves as an urban retreat/residence for veterans struggling to maintain housing and employment.
 Beyond that, the Village Arts Factory will provide residents with access to a wide variety of artistic experiences, many of which have benefits in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, officials said.
The group members are still seeking a tenant for the two-story, 6,400-square-foot Ford Factory. With the unique architectural structure, the factory sits on a highly visible corner in a walkable historic village. It would be ideal as an inventor design space, an education satellite for arts and skilled trades or as a manufacturing training facility, officials said.
The Arts Warehouse features 18 various-sized studios, of which 15 are currently leased. It also features a community room and future gallery. It gives professional and aspiring visual artists an indoor and outdoor place, where they can produce, display and sell their creations.  Adult and youth physical fitness facilities were recently added to this 17,500-square-foot warehouse, which means that activities will also include personal and community health/wellness options.
 “The Village Arts Factory will encourage the development of innovative thinkers, entrepreneurs and future leaders, while simultaneously highlighting an assortment of creations on scenic grounds,” said Jill Engel, executive director of the Partnership for the Arts & Humanities. “It will promote hands-on art education, multicultural experiences and heritage tourism. It will also be an inclusive regional gathering place for people to participate, connect, heal, thrive and unite.”