Since 1982, the Arizona Preservation Foundation and Arizona State Historic Preservation Office (a division of Arizona State Parks) have partnered to present the Governor’s Heritage Preservation Awards. These awards recognize people, organizations, and projects that represent outstanding achievements in preserving Arizona’s prehistoric and historic resources.
This year, the Milagro Arts Center in Prescott, Arizona, made the short list of awardees. It was the only building restoration project recognized in northern Arizona. Kristen Densmore and Ty Fitzmorris, co-founders of the Center, Bill Otwell, Architect, and Dave Pothast, Contractor, renovated and rehabilitated the former LDS Church building in historic downtown Prescott at 126 North Marina Street.
Once remodeled in the 1980’s as the Marina Executive Center, the team went through a demolition phase, tearing out small framed business offices throughout, creating more open spaces, and revealing long halls, high ceilings and clean, broad walls throughout the three story space. With demolition also came the need for additional support systems in both the floors and the ceilings. Steel and glulam beams were added to stabilize and maintain the structural integrity of the historic poured concrete building. The original proscenium was uncovered, skylights were added to bring in natural light and expose the 90 year old trusses, and the original windows were treated with an energy-efficient window film similar to double glazing.
Ultimately, the team was able to repurpose and salvage original wood for usable studio furniture and equipment. They restored the original hard wood maple floors in the north and south entries, community space, and in both main staircases. With a focus on the timeless beauty of natural materials they uncovered and highlighted elements such as wood, steel, stone, and glass – emphasizing the history of the space while giving the building a light contemporary feel.
Other energy efficient treatments included a 22 kw photovoltaic array, LED high-efficiency lighting throughout the building, spray foam insulation was added to seal the exterior envelope at the roof, an Energy Recovery Ventilation system was installed, and a new metal roof was added to allow for 95% catchment of rainwater for use in landscaping, clay mixing, and toilet flushing.
Densmore, Fitzmorris, and the team spent approximately 2 years executing a master plan incorporating regenerative ecological design principals to bring the historic building back to life, and into the grand art space it is today. The Center now houses shared art studios for ceramics, analog photography, digital media, painting and drawing (limited space), books and paper, and letterpress and printmaking.
Also housed in the Milagro Arts Center is a professional recording studio, Raven Sound Studios, available for use/rent to the general public. Raven Sound offers quality recordings of music, voice over, podcast, and commercial/radio opportunities. The studio will also be available for post-production work such as audio mixing, soundtrack and film score.
Milagro will also offer unique and innovative workshops, host lectures, discussions, and special events, and is working to build an Artist in Residence program for national and internationally known artists to create and showcase their work. According to Densmore, this incredible revolving educational resource has “become a vibrant community hub and creative educational space open to the public. We believe that everyone is an artist and are excited to facilitate and inspire artistic opportunities in Prescott and our extended community.”
This is such an incredible honor and recognition for the Center, and the visionary work, passion, and energy of the Milagro team. Congratulations on this important work, creating a sense of place for communities, raising the bar for Arizona and the arts, and furthering Prescott as a destination.
For more information on the Center, their programs, events, workshops, and opportunities for art making, visit milagroartscenter.org.
Thanks to Kristen Densmore for contributing to this post.