Ripon College to Launch New Project Space in Restored Fire-Damaged Building Downtown

Ripon College announced it will open a new multi-use arts space in downtown Ripon on Friday, Sept. 4. An 8 p.m. ribbon-cutting will feature the Ripon Fire Department as the guest of honor since the new venue will be located at 314 Watson St., a historic 19th-century building that was restored after a devastating fire in December 2013.

“Ripon College wants a vibrant downtown, Ripon and downtown needs a vibrant Ripon College. It’s a two-way street,” said Zach Messitte, president of Ripon College. “We believe strongly in our community and owe a debt of gratitude to our first responders who helped save Watson Street.”

The space will be called 314 and is envisioned as a multi-use venue for art exhibits, concerts, poetry readings, lectures, performances, speakers, classes, community events and more. College and community members alike are invited to submit their ideas for using this dynamic new space.

“I imagine 314 to be a place for students and community members to incubate creative ideas,” said Rafael Salas, associate professor of art and co-director of 314. “I would like bands to rehearse and play out, artists to proudly exhibit their work, and for groups to meet in a collegial and inquisitive setting. We want it to be in use all the time.”

A ceremony opening 314 will take place at the site of the fire and will honor representatives from the Ripon Area Fire Department, Ripon Police Department and other first responders who battled the downtown fire.

The inaugural reception will feature an exhibit of photographic artworks of the fire and its aftermath taken by Jim Koepnick, a professional photographer from Oshkosh. The framed pieces will be offered at auction that evening, with proceeds to benefit the Ripon Fire Department. The purchased artwork may be picked up after the exhibit closes on Sept. 20.

314: Ripon College Project Space was made possible with support from the Kemper Foundation and the Office of the President. Co-directors for the project space are Salas; Assistant Professor of Art Travis Nygard; and Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities John Hughes.

The newly renovated space will be equipped with a sound system, public address system, projector, electronic keyboard, movable stage, variable lighting, tables, chairs and WIFI. The entrance and restroom will be wheelchair accessible.

To learn more about upcoming events or submit an idea for an event, visit here.

Photo of Jim Koepnick


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