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Historic Farmer Cooperative in Springville being transformed into art foundry

Jan 04, 2020 03:54PM ● By Arianne Brown

Just west of the dairy on Main Street in Springville, a renovation is about to begin, giving the former farmer cooperative a whole new look and purpose developers hope will please residents.

The project that will begin in the coming months, pending permits, will transform the building into a modern, fully functional art foundry.

Originally built in 1946, the co-op served as a point for farmers to buy and sell farm supplies.

On the north end of the building are two tall square silos that were used for grain, and on the south end, there was a truck scale so that farmers could weigh the contents of their trucks.

According to the general contractor over renovating the historic building, Rich Lewis of R J Lewis Inc., the co-op was a staple in a community that values farming and agriculture.

But if there’s something that the city of Springville also values as part of long-standing history, it’s the arts.

It is because of the city’s dedication to the arts that new owner, Baer Bronze has purchased the building for its foundry.

“Baer Bronze has been a Springville based business for many years,” Lewis said. “Fine art is synonymous with Springville. This location will allow for needed expansion as demand grows. I consider this renovation an investment not only in Baer Bronze as a business, but in the surrounding community.

“We hope that the transformation to the building will add value to the community while preserving our history. We hope that the building itself will be as classic and timeless as the bronze that will be cast within its walls.”

Lewis said the plan is to preserve as much of the building as possible, including the look of the building inside and out, as well as repurposing parts of the old truck scale for the stairway inside. Upgrades would be done to increase its efficiency while still preserving the interior brick walls and rustic plank floor.

And while retaining the integrity of the building is what Lewis has been commissioned to do, Mike Baer of Baer Bronze hopes focus on having quality art created within its walls and maintain the art history that he says had been part of the building for years.

“We are excited about this project because it will be a beautiful addition to Art City,” Baer said.

“What some people may not know is that the building was an art foundry for one of Utah’s greatest sculptors, Hughes Curtis. When he first cast his sculptures in bronze, there was not an art foundry in Utah, so he built his own foundry in his backyard in Springville. After he started working with other artists, it got to be too much for his backyard. That was about the time that this building stopped being a farm supply store, so Hughes moved his foundry here, making it the second location of the first art foundry in Utah!”

Baer said he is grateful for the opportunity to expand his bronze business while at the same time keeping the small town feel of historic Springville.

“We are grateful to be able to expand the space for our growing business, servicing sculptors around the West as well as other parts of the county,” he said. “We love the small-town, country feel of this area, including the four acres our building sits on, which includes a pond and horse pasture. We are excited to continue the historic art tradition of Springville.” (Brown is a Serve Daily contributor.)