Case Study: Huss Project Imaginarium
The Huss Project is a public space project led by the nonprofit *culture is not optional working in Three Rivers, Michigan to bring arts, resources, and culture to the community.
The Huss Project is a public space project led by the nonprofit, *culture is not optional, working in Three Rivers, Michigan to bring arts, resources, and culture to the community. In the late 2000’s the Huss Project redeveloped a former elementary school which was decommissioned and stood vacant for years. The project has cultivated a small organic farm, a picnic and outdoor gathering pavilion, programming center, and performance venue.
The Huss Project Imaginarium activated a new space within the building, creating a lending library, indoor courtyard and meeting space, incubator space, and exhibition space. The Imaginarium was made possible by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Public Spaces Community Places crowdgranting program and over 200 local donors that helped bring the space to life.
The result is a breathtaking space that honors the history of the building while bringing in modern elements of interior design and sustainable architecture. The Three Rivers community is largely rural with a traditional downtown, but is a midway point between the two anchor cities of South Bend, Indiana and Kalamazoo, Michigan. The structural walls of the Imaginarium were built from a deconstructed barn at the historic Gleason Farm nearby and gives a grounding energy to the space.
The events that have taken place in the Imaginarium have included live music, kids programming, plays, rummage sales, story nights, and birthday parties. The future of the space will evolve to meet communal demand and could include a small coffee/tea set up or prep kitchen for local makers. A permanent musical archive will live in the space as well as an expansion of the lending library.
“Reading is one way we witness the world through another’s eyes. The Imaginarium allows for that exploration and adventure to happen any day.” — Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma, Executive Director of *culture is not optional
- Project: Huss Project Imaginarium
- Project Type: Community Centers and Venues, Food and Agriculture
- Project Location: Three Rivers, MI
- Crowdfunding Raise: $51,405
- Crowdgranting Match: $50,000
- Patrons: 222
- Leveraged Funding: $81,850
- Total Project Estimate: $181,850
This project involved combining the Huss School’s original library and Kindergarten room and turning it into a re-imagined two-story space features:
- Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on both levels, with a dramatic opening between floors
- Seating and tables for reading, meeting, playing, eating, working, partying…and more!
- Refinished 100-year-old wood floors
- Upgraded bathrooms
- An upgraded and expanded kitchenette
- New energy-efficient windows styled after the original 1919 windows
- A high-efficiency HVAC system to heat and cool the space
- An outdoor front porch pavilion, constructed from reclaimed barn wood
The Imaginarium supports existing Culture is Not Optional programming and allows them to expand to include summer lunches, community events, after-school programs, potlucks, and more. The Imaginarium will also be available to other community organizations for their programming, dramatically transforming an under-utilized space in an underserved neighborhood into a vital community asset!
About Public Spaces Community Places
Public Spaces Community Places (PSCP) is our crowdgranting partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). This crowdgranting initiative provides matching grant funds to eligible projects that improve public space in the state of Michigan. Projects can receive a matching grant of up to $50,000 if they reach their crowdfunding goal.