Spaces can achieve coolness through design, people, use or history. It isn’t often you get a space that melds all four of those factors like Flower City Arts Center does.
The building at 713 Monroe Ave. is a former firehouse, and many original architectural elements remain from the original construction. These include RFD strap-hinged doors, fire poles, wooden ceilings and natural brick walls.
The community artists who use the space bring their unique styles to help make the center special and encourage visitors’ creativity.
The center includes darkroom and photography facilities, facilities for printmaking and book arts, a ceramics workshop, three galleries for local artists to exhibit their artwork and space available to rent for aspiring artists. There are also internships, over 240 classes for the public, and youth programs.
Then there’s the history. Hook and Ladder No. 4 was built in 1895 and doubled in size less than 10 years later. When the city had outgrown the firehouse in 1971, the building became a haven for various businesses and retailers. Some important community institutions found early homes there, such as the Gay Alliance and the Genesee Co-Op Federal Credit Union. The Flower City Arts Center, originally called the Genesee Street Organization, moved in sometime in 1972 and eventually expanded into the entire building.
Over the years many people contributed to the center’s design. Antoni Eckmair and various associated workers helped create much of the current interior charm. Also instrumental was Pardi Partnership Architects in helping to reimagine the interior space and make it handicapped accessible.