Hammond Arts Alliance returns home
After years of moving from temporary space to temporary space, the Hammond Arts Alliance has found its way back to its original home. This time it's for keeps.
"It's something that...I guess it's been sort of a dream," said Heidi Frier, HAA president. "We now have the security that it (the building) is ours, we can plan our shows, we can plan for the future."
When the Hammond Arts Alliance was formed in 1996, the late Bruce Foster of River Falls donated the use of a building located at 865 Davis St. to the HAA for use as a gallery. The HAA stayed in the building, which it dubbed Foster Hall, for nine years.
When Foster died in 2007, his family sold the building. The HAA went through a series of new homes, including space in the Hammond Hotel and, most recently, the basement of Associated Bank.
"We got displaced a lot and it got a little harder to pick up the pieces every time that happened," Freier said.
While HAA was moving from location to location, Freier said the HAA members still kept Foster Hall in the back of their minds. The spaces HAA used all worked very well, but none of them have worked as well as Foster Hall, Freier said.
When Associated Bank closed its Hammond Branch, the Hammond Arts Alliance, displaced once more, was able to move its gallery back to Foster Hall.
The building had been foreclosed on by WESTconsin Credit Union, and the HAA was able to negotiate a rental agreement with the credit union, while desperately trying to raise the money to buy Foster Hall before someone else did.
Then, a Hammond couple stepped forward and offered to buy the building from WESTconsin Credit Union and sell it to HAA.
"It was kind of amazing," said Paulette Anderson, HAA director.
"We were humbled," Freier said. "It really is one of those moments in life where you think there's a lot of good in people."
On Tuesday, June 25, the paperwork was signed and Foster Hall officially became the property of HAA.
"It gives us the security to know from year to year, let alone month to month that we're going to have a place to do our shows and bring people together," Freier said. "Now that we have that security, we can make long-range plans."
Some of those long-range plans include expanding the programs HAA offers.
HAA now holds monthly art showings in the gallery at Foster Hall.
Anderson and Freier said they hope to be able to add new events, such as performances, art classes and workshops in the future. Freier said HAA would also be willing to rent space out on days it isn't needed for shows.
HAA bought the building from the donors on a land contract. That will give the group five years to repay the $25,000 with a small amount of interest included.
HAA will do grant writing as well as some fundraising events in the future.
"Although we've been given five years to pay the building off, we'd like to do it ASAP," Freier said, "so we can concentrate on doing what we do."