From our humble beginnings in a rented house in the village of Rosendale, we have grown, purchased and renovated three properties to serve the needs of our artists.
WSW’s ideas about programming evolved in the early years and we quickly outgrew what could be accomplished in our rented space. After looking at dozens of properties in Rosendale, we saw the most potential in an empty storefront that had once been the company store for the Rosendale Cement Company in the nineteenth century. Over the years it had developed into a bait and tackle shop and catered to folks headed out to fish in the neighboring Williams Lake and surrounding Binnewater Lakes. It was 1980 when we moved in and the building was filled with random parts for outboard motors, worm breeding bins in the basement, a bone crusher for soap-making and barrels and barrels of liquid soap. We inaugurated the “new” studios in 1983 after three years of carefully preserving the late 1800’s interiors and with additional studio spaces constructed in the rear of the building.
We began a full time internship program in 1983. The first interns came for summer-long positions, but eventually we invited interns to work year round. These interns lived in a rented apartment in town, or in a house about a mile away. We had the newly built studio space by this time, but our property lacked housing that was suited for the internship and residency program. We needed a place that was closer to the studios for these young artists to live so that they could really take full advantage of the facilities.
A derelict house down Binnewater Lane became available. We did a complete gut rehab and now we have housing for our interns as well as an accessible artist’s living space.
Emeritus board member Joanne Steele, made a significant contribution in memory of her mother, to help us get the house in shape. It’s now known as the Anne Atwood House, honoring Joanne’s mother who taught her the joy of being an art lover.
A couple years later another adjacent property became available with four apartments and a bit of acreage. 736 Binnewater Lane was somewhat less derelict than our previous acquisition but it still took serious elbow grease to transform it into space we could use. Today, three of the apartments house WSW staff and former interns. The nearly four acre plot has also made it possible for us to finally establish the ArtFarm on our own land.
We developed a Master Plan to analyze our needs and establish baseline goals for expanding our facility. We knew that housing and studio space was needed to accommodate the ever-increasing number of worthy artists wanting to work at WSW.
We approached our neighbor whose property was suffering the effects of years of transient renters. By the time we made the purchase it had become quite a wreck. In 2009 we were awarded a matching grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation that covered half of the cost of the purchase and exterior rehabilitation.
As we stripped away the guts of the building, layer upon layer of home decorating fashions were revealed along with an assortment of odd artifacts from the eras. Now that the building is cleared out and the facade nearly completed, our next major project is to rebuild the interior. You can help. Funding is needed to construct and repurpose this property for a future of expanded arts programming.