Clubhouse | Buzz Blog

Friday, January 27, 2017

Clubhouse

A look inside SLC's latest downtown event space.

Posted By on January 27, 2017, 8:00 AM

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Downtown may sadly be going through an age of gentrification, but the area still boasts plenty of secret locations that have surprises and history within. One of the latest examples of this is Clubhouse, located in the building that used to hold the old Ladies Literary Club on South Temple. The building has been renovated and transformed into an event space where concerts, photo shoots, performances, etc. utilize the building for  intimate occasions. Today we chat with Dave Brewer and Jessie Jude Gilmore, the minds behind the Photo Collective Studios who also founded Clubhouse, to talk about the building's history and renovation, as well as what future plans are in store. (All photos provided courtesy of Photo Collective Studios.)

Dave Brewer & Jessie Jude Gilmore
click to enlarge PHOTOCOLLECTIVESTUDIOS.COM
  • PhotoCollectiveStudios.com
ClubhouseSLC.com

Hey Dave and Jessie Jude! How have you guys been lately?

Jessie:
 Hi Gavin! We have been staying busy, to say the least! But we couldn’t be happier to be where we are, doing what we’re doing, together. We’ve been side by side since we met in 2013, and now we have a third partner to keep us on task: our two and a half-year-old, Ayla Blake.

click to enlarge Fashion Photo Shoot - PHOTOCOLLECTIVESTUDIOS.COM
  • PhotoCollectiveStudios.com
  • Fashion Photo Shoot

How have things been going with the Photo Collective as of late?

Dave:
Photo Collective Studios continues to serve as a valuable resource to photographers and videographers. We’ve been sharing space, equipment and community with fellow creatives for almost six years now. We are proud of the growth and development of the local photography scene. We continue to expand our network by providing on-location photo booths and documenting local events—come say hello! We also provide commercial photo and video services for many local and national brands as a creative agency. We love inviting new photographers to use our shared studio spaces located in one of the last standing warehouses of Old Greek Town (561 W. 200 South): a historic bar and brothel renovated and designed as a modern production studio and event space.

click to enlarge 1937 Ladies' Literary Club House. Exterior in 1937 - SPECIAL COLLECTION DEPT. MARRIOTT LIBRARY
  • Special Collection Dept. Marriott Library
  • 1937 Ladies' Literary Club House. Exterior in 1937

Getting right to it, what made you decide to have a space like Clubhouse?

Jessie:
 The Photo Collective was founded as a shared studio space for photographers, but we quickly became a hub for artists, education and entertainment across all media. We desired to expand into a space that could reach beyond the bounds of photography in order to serve the greater creative community on a larger scale. With the ever-changing energy in Old Greek Town (as part of the Rio Grande District) we wanted to keep our options open, and were optimistic we could find a building to purchase, rather than continuing to rent in arguably one of the hardest neighborhoods for small business. In 2015 we started the search, thinking we were looking for a warehouse: garage doors, concrete floors, high ceilings, steel structure, the works. We toured just about every available warehouse from Basecamp to the now Square Kitchen, but nothing felt right until we stepped foot inside the Clubhouse. The stars aligned, and when we purchased the building in April 2016 we recognized how extremely different Clubhouse and the Greek Town warehouse are in architectural style and client demographic, so we decided to expand our operations into both venues, rather than to simply relocate. We are very attached to the Rio Grande District and are invested in seeing the neighborhood succeed, but meanwhile, we’re falling head-over-heels for South Temple!

click to enlarge 1937 photo of Auditorium_Ladies' Literary Club House.1937 - SPECIAL COLLECTION DEPT. MARRIOTT LIBRARY
  • Special Collection Dept. Marriott Library
  • 1937 photo of Auditorium_Ladies' Literary Club House.1937

How did you come across the old Ladies Literary Club on South Temple?

Dave:
Our first encounter with the LLC was October 2013, when we were hired by SLC AIGA to shoot a photo booth at the Beaux Arts Ball. We were setup outside on the front porch the whole time and didn’t have much of an opportunity to explore the incredible interior. A couple years later during our warehouse search, a few different real-estate friends recommended we take a tour of the LLC, and we decided to view it with a fresh perspective. When we entered the building on that cold February day in 2016, we snuck a glance at each other behind the agents back, both reeling with the feeling of "THIS IS IT!" It was a pivotal moment when we recognized the opportunity to continue the legacy of a century-old building, built and designed with the community in mind.

click to enlarge Ladies' Literary Club members. Date Unknown. - LADIES LITERARY CLUB SCRAPBOOK
  • Ladies Literary Club Scrapbook
  • Ladies' Literary Club members. Date Unknown.

What kind of state was the building in when you first took it over?

Jessie:
With all due respect, it looked, felt and smelled like every grandma’s house ever. There was plush periwinkle carpet covering up sun-faded hardwood floors and old wallpaper with hand-painted murals in the entryway, not to mention the outdated lacy curtains. That said, for a 100+ year-old building, it was in excellent condition. In 2013 the Ladies’ Literary Club had gifted the building to the Utah Heritage Foundation (now Preservation Utah) with hopes the preservation group would help guarantee the building’s future. Preservation Utah did the difficult work of liquidating 100 years worth of furniture, artwork and collectibles (some folks may have been lucky enough to catch those yard sales) and with the help of many (especially Capitol Hill Construction), they cleaned up some of the older, somewhat neglected areas of the building like the basement and overgrown landscaping. It was the wish of the Ladies to find owners who would keep their beloved clubhouse doors open for the community to enjoy, so Preservation Utah held the building on the market for about 18 months, rejecting several offers to tear it down or otherwise use it for private business operations. We can’t believe anyone would want to tear this building down! We thank Preservation Utah for their dedication to the historic character of our city.

click to enlarge Ballet West Wedding - PHOTOCOLLECTIVESTUDIOS.COM
  • PhotoCollectiveStudios.com
  • Ballet West Wedding

What was it like working with the board of trustees and the city while using the building?

Dave:
We feel that Preservation Utah’s Board of Trustees were truly inspired as they persisted through the sometimes discouraging search for a new owner of the club house. While the city wasn’t involved, the community at large backed our reputation and gave us the confidence to make the huge leap of faith to take out a private loan for the building. When we gave the Board our offer, we also presented them with a family bio for some context (I studied photography, Jessie Jude studied architecture, both at the U of U), as well as a three-minute video about what Photo Collective Studios had been up to, emphasizing the work we’d done to build a creative community within the historic Greek Town warehouse and our passion for historic spaces. Our lives changed the day the Board responded with an enthusiastic acceptance of our offer.

click to enlarge Clubhouse Sunroom Staircase - PHOTOCOLLECTIVESTUDIOS.COM
  • PhotoCollectiveStudios.com
  • Clubhouse Sunroom Staircase

How much work did you guys put into finding all the historical stuff on the building and how much was already there for you to utilize?

Jessie:
 The Ladies had shared a scrapbook with Preservation Utah, who scanned dozens of the incredible old images into their rich database of Utah’s history. The Special Collections Dept at the Marriott Library also holds a few amazing images, as well as all of the written accounts and paperwork belonging to the club. Lastly, the Utah State Archives has a few collections, donated to them by individuals and the Salt Lake Tribune over the years. These entities were all so pleased that we showed interest in learning about the club that we had no trouble gathering images and proper credit. One of our favorite text sources is a book called History of Fifty Years, LLC 1877-1927 written by a historian of the Ladies’ Literary Club in 1927. This detailed account of the club’s structure and the highlights from their first half-century gave us so much material to work with! We had a lot of fun researching for the exhibit now hanging in the Clubhouse Library, which we printed entirely in-house. There are some major gaps in time, however, so we are slowly gathering stories and photos from individuals who attended various events at the Ladies’ Literary Club since 1913. Share with us by emailing hello@clubhouseslc.com!

click to enlarge Clubhouse Launch - PHOTOCOLLECTIVESTUDIOS.COM
  • PhotoCollectiveStudios.com
  • Clubhouse Launch

The space itself feels like a throwback while still being modern. How was it finding that balance to keep it looking as it once did while still appealing to modern eyes?

Dave:
The architects Ware & Treganza are to thank for the timeless design—a Frank Lloyd Wright-esque prairie school style building, quite unassuming from the outside while jaw-droppingly beautiful from within. A few elements were extremely distracting from the elegant interior structure, especially the old periwinkle carpet and lead-based wallpaper—who knew? Within two months we had refinished about 5,000 sq.ft. of gorgeous hardwood floors (thanks to Glen Stillman, Max, & Joey Goldsmith!), re-plastered some seriously cracked walls, and removed all the lacy, frilly stuff leftover from decades back. Lastly, we upgraded some of the lighting fixtures and installed modern track lighting to create a functional exhibition space, a move that completely transformed the Library and Drawing Room. Aesthetically, these few projects shaved off 50 years almost overnight. Meanwhile, Preservation Utah put a legal easement on the whole main floor, meaning we (and any future owner) must abide by specific historic guidelines around any remodeling we intend to do. Some building owners feel burdened by these “limitations,” but we feel grateful historic easements exist. Without them, properties would more quickly lose their historic nature, something we believe adds layers of meaning to our city.

click to enlarge Clubhouse Launch: Piano - PHOTOCOLLECTIVESTUDIOS.COM
  • PhotoCollectiveStudios.com
  • Clubhouse Launch: Piano

What was the opening reception like for you last fall? What were everyone's reactions?

Jessie:
 We opened our doors Oct. 1, 2016 with an evening of music, food, and dance, and the energy was amazing! The historic photo exhibition about the Ladies’ Literary Club was a huge hit, and most people (like us) knew nothing of them before that point. We heard “I’ve passed this building every day for 15 years and never knew it was here!" It’s a pleasure to share their story as we build our own. We had a few hundred clients and friends come through the building that evening and the response was exactly the encouragement we needed after a summer of restoration. The night was broken up by several pop-up performances on stage and beautiful projection mapping on the decorative high ceilings. Colorful light animated the awe-some architecture and happy guests danced the night away, blessing the Clubhouse with new intentions and possibilities. Certainly, the ghosts of the architects and Ladies were dancing with us too.

click to enlarge Renovation of Hard Wood Floors - PHOTOCOLLECTIVESTUDIOS.COM
  • PhotoCollectiveStudios.com
  • Renovation of Hard Wood Floors

Since then, what other events have you held in the space and have had the most fun with?

Dave:
Some of our favorites thus far have been Love Lake City’s Masque Party (a successful fundraiser for the Road Home), SALT Contemporary Dance company’s gorgeous annual gala, Solstice (a three-day popup maker’s market presented by our friends at TheSaltMiner.com), and most recently Grassroots Shakespeare Co. performed a few weekends of King Lear! We’ve seen some really creative independent art events like FOAD’s full-length film premier (a local fixie bike team), a zine release party, and the launch party for a new local festival mag called Kinetik. We also love the smaller scale, reoccurring events like Lower Lights Sangha who meditates at Clubhouse monthly, and Wasatch Contra Dance, Salt Lake Scandi Dance, and Argentine Tango who help keep our dance floor swinging! Last but not least, Utah Women Unite (who organized that awesome Women’s March on the capitol Jan. 23) have been holding monthly planning meetings here, and social activist group Showing Up for Racial Justice recently held a screening of 13th with a panel afterward, all about the industrial prison system. All of these people inspire us to keep doing what we’re doing, and we’ve just begun!

For those wishing to utilize the space, what do they need to do?

Jessie:
 Book a tour and provide the brief details about your event, meeting, production or performance at our website! We’ll give you a full tour of “the house that the women built," then provide you with rates to fit your needs to ensure mutual support of each others business or personal pursuit.

click to enlarge Municipal Ballet Co- Nutcracker - PHOTOCOLLECTIVESTUDIOS.COM
  • PhotoCollectiveStudios.com
  • Municipal Ballet Co- Nutcracker

What can we expect from you both and the Clubhouse over the rest of 2017?

Dave:
We are very excited to release a full calendar of upcoming Clubhouse events and opportunities! Keep an eye on our social media as we launch this calendar, you won’t want to miss the variety of upcoming local productions. The building's design lends itself beautifully to the arts, such as dance, music, theatre, storytelling, photo/video production, and good-old-fashioned parties. Coming up Feb. 3, we’ll be hosting The Bee: SLC’s lovingly competitive storytelling event, and are thrilled to be hosting this community the first Friday of each month in 2017! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to stay in the loop, and thanks for all the love! We couldn’t do this without our wonderful, creative community.

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