Nickel Plate Arts Pursuing Historic Lacy Building for Artist Studios

Nickel Plate Arts Pursuing Historic Lacy Building for Artist Studios

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (October 18, 2022) — The iconic Lacy Building in downtown Noblesville is getting a new twist on its decades of rich history. 

In late 2021, Chris Nurnberger and his wife Katie reached out to Nickel Plate Arts after purchasing the property. They asked what the Noblesville Arts community might need and revealed that they would love to find a way for the building to be a home for artists and artistic ventures. 

The building has some especially unique spaces, including two mezzanines that may make quality artist studios as well as a basement that could be some form of workshops.

“I was immediately excited to hear that one of square’s oldest and largest buildings could have a new future and be fully activated after so many decades,” said Nickel Plate Arts Director Ailithir McGill.

Cleaning of the Lacy building was completed in Spring 2022, and some renovations are already beginning, including installation of an elevator that would make all floors of the building accessible.

McGill toured the building in December 2021 and saw first-hand just how much work was ahead of Katie and Chris. Many sections of the building had been abandoned for years, and others were filled with storage. 

The ballroom on the top floor had been carved into smaller rooms. The mezzanines, which occupy the back of the building between the 1st and 2nd and 2nd and 3rd floors, definitely have potential for artists. The building’s windows are bisected, which means that natural light will be at a premium, but there is definite opportunity for wide open spaces to accommodate flexible studio space for artists. The basement seemed like it could become a very useful space for woodworking, ceramics, or welding.

“It seemed like a match made in heaven,” said McGill.  “The more I looked, the more potential I saw, and the more I worked with the Nurnbergers, the more convinced I was that they wanted to be meaningful, long-term partners for the Arts community.”

Nickel Plate Arts’ plans are still tentative because the owners have a lot of decisions to make about the renovation. This endeavor is only made more difficult due to supply chain problems in the construction and material industry – impacting prices daily. 

After a few key conversations, Nickel Plate Arts is pursuing the following goals:

  • Nickel Plate Arts plans to manage the studio spaces and likely hold a master lease with the Lacy Arts Building to sub-lease to artists, but the exact arrangements are not yet set in stone.
  • Plans call for installing 15 to 20 studio spaces of various sizes on the two mezzanines. These spaces will be flexible and communal; the hope is to construct moveable walls to delineate the studios, with lots of shared common spaces.
  • These studios could be used by traditional 2-d artists, but could also be useful for graphic designers and even some 3-d artists.
  • If there is interest from the community, Nickel Plate Arts might be able to design some of the spaces for musicians or photographers.
  • Incorporate a shared common room that could be used as a classroom or event space.
  • In the basement, the goal is to develop two studios designed for ceramics work, including working kilns (and the ventilation systems needed for various ceramics projects). Nickel Plate Arts also hopes to fit a welding studio in the basement, complete with appropriate ventilation and safety equipment.
  • There may also be a first floor space available for artists with an entry from the Alley behind the building. This space could be a great retail/gallery location for one artist, or perhaps a shared space to feature work made by all of the artists in the building. The exact plans will depend upon the budget and interest from artists and community members.
  • The Nurnbergers are open to exploring where art can be displayed throughout the building to give the studio artists even more opportunities to promote themselves and sell their work.
  • The Nurnbergers are also enthusiastic about having the building open and activated for every First Friday, and they want to reserve the Ballroom space for artists to activate a few times a year for unique and engaging artist-focused events.

Nickel Plate Arts will have to figure out how to pay for certain aspects of adapting spaces to the needs of artists, which may end up being a pricey venture. 

This project was the focus at their Anniversary Gala, where over $10,000 was raised specifically for installing studios in the Lacy Building. 

“That will get us a long way, but we anticipate needing more than twice that to make these spaces the attractive, professional, efficient spaces that local artists deserve,” McGill said. “Our hope is that the renovation will be well underway by the start of 2023 and that these studios could begin taking shape by summer or fall of next year.” 

Nickel Plate Arts has a waiting list for studio spaces; artists should contact info@nickelplatearts.org to get added to that waiting list in order to be considered for one of the new studios

Peterson Architecture Principal Darren Peterson is the head of the Nickel Plate Arts board, and his business partner Robert McGill is the lead architect on the project.

Artists who want to get more involved–or anyone wishing to support this project through monetary donations can donate here or reach out to Director Ailithir McGill via email at amcgill@nickelplatearts.org with “For the Lacy Arts Building Project” in the memo or notes.

Ailithir McGill
amcgill@nickelplatearts.org