From Factory to Art Gallery

Adaptively reusing an old building can have benefits both tangible and intangible. Just ask Bente Torjusen, executive director of AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Several years ago, the organization purchased and renovated the 1850s former H.W. Carter & Sons overalls factory and turned it into an energy-efficient art center with studios, classrooms, and exhibition space. When we talked with Torjusen about local travel ideas for the Fall 2015 issue of Preservation magazine, we found the AVA Gallery story so interesting that we asked her to elaborate on it. Excerpts from our conversation with her are below.

How did this project come about?

The building is a large building with plenty of natural light, so it is perfect for the visual arts. But it needed a lot of help. Number one was that we needed to buy the building, which we were able to do in 2003.

We knew we needed to make considerable renovations. It was a post-and-beam building and there were areas where you could actually see through the wall to the outside, so it was pretty cold in the wintertime. So I contacted a former board member, Stuart White, an architect. He got very excited about the potential here. He was the one who suggested that this would be a perfect opportunity for us to think about seeking LEED certification.




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