I was fortunate enough to spend the holiday with my sister and her family in Colorado this past Christmas. Since I had never been there before, I wanted to go see the sights! We went to all the usual suspects: Garden of the Gods, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, the big Blue Bear, Arapahoe Acres and Krisana Park Mid-Century Modern neighborhoods, the Broadmoor, and the beautiful snowy expanse that is the town of Hartsel. One place we visited in Colorado Springs was a little off the beaten path for me but so worth it, the Ivywild School.
With the The E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts about to open in the historic Fremont School in midtown Sacramento – a project I have personally been involved with for the last eight years – I was extremely intrigued to see what was being done at Ivywild.
Before 2012, the Ivywild School sat empty; no students had attended it for some time. It was contributing to significant blight in the neighborhood and no one knew what to do with it. It once was a beautiful historic building, but it needed some love again. Fremont School had the same story.
A small group of locals decided to purchase and rehabilitate Ivywild and claim it back for the community. One of them was a local brewer that opened Bristol Brewery & Pub inside. They brought in several tenants that helped contribute to the education theme like: The Principal’s Office which sells “libations for the troubled”;
the Old School Bakery and their pastries; and The Meat Locker charcuterie, among others.
Ivywild holds live performances in the gymnasium, and Farmer’s Markets on a regular basis. They reused parts and pieces from its old life like lockers and desks. It even has community garden beds that the restaurants utilize. It was bustling with activity and character, and I was impressed.
Someone saw something in an old, tired school and gave it the opportunity to have a second life. It’s now a thriving community marketplace. I see that same potential for the Fremont School in my own city, and I’m proud to say that it has already started happening.
Go see The E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts, now named CLARA Midtown, for yourself!