Putting pieces back together
Quilter rebuilds studio that floated away during Irene
Ann Brauer with one of her quilted table runners in her rented Bridge Street Shop in Shelburne Falls. Brauer is rebuilding her studio on Conway Street, which floated off its foundation in the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
Ann Brauer's Quilt Shop is being rebuilt at its Conway St location where Irene washed it away.
CORRECTION: Friday’s story about Ann Brauer’s quilt shop in Shelburne Falls incorrectly said the office/apartment building next door to the washed-away quilt shop was undamaged during the Tropical Storm Irene flood two years ago. But former business tenants Deborah and Martin Yaffee experienced substantial flooding and river sludge on the first floor of the 4 Conway St. building, where they ran the Riverside Healing Arts Center and The Little Cooking School.
SHELBURNE FALLS — After Tropical Storm Irene ripped Ann Brauer’s Quilt Studio off its foundation two years ago this week, washing the building about 100 feet down Conway Street, Brauer salvaged her 1960s Singer industrial sewing machine and rented a storefront across the Deerfield River, at 6 Bridge St. But her view across the Iron Bridge — to the place where her old studio used to stand — was both “a blessing and a curse,” says Brauer. It was a reminder of what had happened on Aug. 28, 2011.
Now, Brauer can look out her storefront window and smile. What she sees, across the river, is the foundation of her new studio going up.
The new building at 2 Conway St. will have the same 30-by-40-foot footprint as the old quilt shop. But this building will be two stories high, with Brauer’s studio on the first floor and a two-bedroom apartment on the second.
Instead of pink, the new studio building will be two shades of gray — “sophisticated, like my quilts,” she said.
“Like the other studio, the ceilings are going to be 10 feet high,” said Brauer. “I can see the possibility of showing more serious quilts in a more serious building.”
Chris Singley’s multi-use office/apartment building at 4 Conway St. was the only structure in a row of buildings not damaged by the storm and river floodwaters of Irene. Brauer said she wanted her new building to complement its surroundings. She hired architect George Dole of Buckland, who had also designed Singley’s building. The new studio will be built on an elevated foundation, like its neighbor.
“It will be raised up about 3 to 4 feet,” she said. “The first couple of feet will be impervious to water. My floor will be acid washed concrete, which is easy to clean up. I want the inside to look reasonably modern. It’s a working studio with places to display the quilts.”
“I really like showing my quilts in a more contemporary location,” she said.
Brauer decided to go back to her old site because of those “to-die-for” views of the river and surrounding hills, which inspired the color play in her contemporary, nuanced quilts.
“One of the draws for me, in getting the new space, is I love the view I had,”said Brauer. “I used to get the best rainbows in town. I miss the north and east light of my old studio space, which is the best light for an artist.”
Meanwhile, Brauer says she will remain open on Bridge Street until the new building is finished. If it can be built before harsh winter weather sets in, she would like to move in before the holidays. It not, she hopes to move into the new studio next spring.
“Either way,” she says, “there will be a to-die-for grand (opening) party.”
You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277