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Jun 21, 2013 12:13 PM by Ryan Haarer

Tucson-based Artfire.com transforming old Bates Mansion

TUCSON - The Bates Mansion was originally built in the 1800s. Accountant CTR Bates bought the property in 1954 and expanded it to be the large building it is today. The Rocky Mountain Oyster Club called this home until 2004, and now Tucson based Artfire.com is turning it into a maker space.

"There are lots of maker spaces out there but this is the first artisan driven one where artists really are the focus and they drive what we do here," said Vanessa Ford, executive director of Maker House.

When the remodel is complete, with a finished courtyard, coffee bar, and updated work spaces, it will be the perfect spot for artists to collaborate.

"Tucson does have a strong art culture and that is part of why we wanted to do this. We wanted to give artists a place to come and really call home, but we wanted it to be a maker space as well. And we don't want it to be just technology, just metal working, we want it to be a place of ideas," said Ford.

Those ideas will translate into classes, concerts, theater shows and other events for the public.

"You'll be able to take classes on just about anything you can think of. We are going to have yoga classes, martial arts classes in our courtyard, we'll have some grass planted out there so you'll be able to do that. You'll be able to come into this main work room, work underneath the Corona and do things like scrapbooking, knitting."

Artfire.com employees are already in the building preparing for the opening on September 14. They already have some unique ideas brewing.

"So you'll learn an hour worth of knitting and then you'll use your knitting needles for an hour worth of knitting needles in self defense practice. So we think that's pretty cool, and those are the things we are going to be doing here. Things you have never done before."

Maker House is looking for instructors and class ideas. To contact Maker House visit their website at makerhouse.org or their facebook page.

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