Old Algoma Post Office reborn as new downtown art gallery, events space
ALGOMA – A downtown building originally designed to deliver mail and packages now hopes to deliver art and special events to the area.
Kendra Bulgrin and Jimmy Eddings, owners/operators of James May Gallery in downtown Algoma, have opened a second location: James May North, in the former Algoma Post Office at 219 Steele St.
Where the original gallery, opened in 2015 just a few doors down at 213 Steele St., features modern fine art and fine crafts, the second gallery will serve as an arts space and an event space. By limiting the works to mostly two-dimensional pieces, Bulgrin said the space can be used for everything from workshops to band gigs or wedding receptions.
"We want to keep the middle (of the exhibit space) open for events," Bulgrin said. "You could hold just about anything in there."
The rebirth of a long-vacant downtown building is music to the ears of Sara Krouse, executive director of the Algoma Area Chamber of Commerce. She noted it comes on the heels of the Robert Ray Gallery opening last year in the former Farm Market Kitchen building on the city's downtown waterfront.
"Algoma is incredibly lucky to have Kendra and Jimmy have a vision that's been so successful that they purchased a second building," Krouse said. "To have it become a destination for residents and visitors, it's a real dream."
The post office was built in the 1950s and has been vacant for seven or eight years, Bulgrin said.
"We're practically a block away and never paid attention to it, never once saw the interior," Bulgrin said.
But Bulgrin and Eddings decided they needed to expand, plus Bulgrin wanted to have a more appropriate space for special events. Once they saw the old post office, they knew where they had to go, so much so that Bulgrin said they put down a deposit on the building the same day they visited.
"I was feeling like our current space, we've kinda outgrown," Bulgrin said. "And I wanted to bring more events and more art to the area. We were looking at that space with another artist, looking at opening a gallery with him, and I just fell in love with the space … The spaciousness of it, the airiness, the light coming in from outside, I knew it would be an excellent event space and gallery space. It's such an amazing structure, all concrete block and windows."
Bulgrin and Eddings finalized the purchase of the property in February 2018 and renovated it themselves, as they did with the first gallery. While the interior is complete, they plan to tear up the parking lot for the building this summer and replace it with green space that could include a sculpture garden.
James May North had what Bulgrin called "an in-progress show" in May 2018 as part of the original gallery's annual "Art of Water" exhibit and was part of "Art of Water" again when the new space officially opened this May. In between, it hosted a Makers Fair for local artists and crafters for Small Business Saturday in the city last November, which Bulgrin said is among the types of events she'd like to bring to the space. Bulgrin said she's also taking inquiries from artists who want to lead workshops.
"We're thinking of things like (the Makers Fair), creative retreats, creative workshops," Bulgrin said. "We hope to bring our love of creativity to it."
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
For more information on James May North or James May Gallery, call 262-753-3130 or visit jamesmaygallery.com,
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Old Algoma Post Office reborn as new downtown art gallery, events space