By Meghan Mongillo, WKRC
WALNUT HILLS, Ohio (WKRC) – ArtWorks Cincinnati is uncovering art of the past while creating its new home.
Work is underway to renovate a century-old building in Walnut Hills. When it opens, those hidden pieces will be featured as colorful additions.
A sign for AC contractor Race Refrigeration has been plastered on the front of the building for more than 50 years. The sign’s removal revealed a treasure.
“We had an inkling because, as you went through, we can get little glimpses of it from the inside, but we had no idea until that sign was gone. We had no idea how the light would come through and embellish the inside. We thought, these have to be kept. They are really, really cool,” said ArtWorks board member Ken Pray.
Crews discovered antique custom glass signs with bright lettering that read “painting supplies” and “1000 and 1 colors.” They will remain as the façade of ArtWorks’ new space.
The old Bolce Paint building that went up in 1909 will be brought back to its artistic roots.
“We had no idea that these beams up here were all painted a different color,” Pray said. “Every single one was painted a different color. That was presumably for Bolce to show off they can do any color.”
The beams hidden under drywall and dropped ceilings will be enhanced with fresh coats of paint in their original hues, plus, the original brick walls and floor will be refurbished.
Another element ArtWorks is keeping honors the building’s history as an appliance store — an old Crosley refrigerator.
“It actually is in perfect working condition. So, we are going to use this in our new renovated kitchen,” Pray said.
ArtWorks CEO Colleen Houston is ecstatic about the organization’s new permanent home.
Its three floors will hold an art gallery, several art studios, an event space, a shop, and meeting rooms.
“We’ve always rented in our 26-year history,” said Houston. “We’ve had separate studios and office space. So, to consolidate under one roof is really exciting for the organization.
ArtWorks, which is responsible for hundreds of hand-painted public murals in Cincinnati, will now paint its own mark on the vibrant Walnut Hills community.
The renovation will cost about $9 million. The organization is getting a little help from historic tax credits.
Work started in January and should be finished in time for a grand opening in November 2024.