Mattress Factory creates new by preserving old


Above: The art galleries at 516 Sampsonia Way will maintain some of its current rustic features. (Photo/Kelsey Shea)

The three story abandoned row house that sits at 516 Sampsonia Way has peeling wall paper, exposed brick, broken plaster and even a few holes in the walls ­­– and that’s just the way the Mattress Factory likes it.

That’s why the Mattress Factory bought the building in 2001 and is now renovating it into the museum’s third gallery space in the Central Northside. Rather than renovate every aspect of the building, the Mattress Factory will try to preserve and find the beauty in the battered old space to create a unique art viewing experience not offered by the museum’s other two buildings.

“The space will encapsulate the past and allow arts to respond to it,” said marketing manager Lindsay O’Leary. “It’s much different than the big white rectangle spaces in the main gallery.”

O’Leary said one of the new space’s great advantages is that it will allow there to always be something new at the Mattress Factory.

The house will remain broken up into rooms, rather than an open space commonly found in art galleries, and exposed brick and peeling wall paper will be maintained and preserved, though essentials like new flooring, new ceilings and an HVAC system will be installed.

Because of this unique approach, the complete renovation of the 121-year-old Victorian building will only cost the Mattress Factory $360,000. Though the museum has owned the building for 10 years, the renovations are made possible by a recent community infrastructure and tourism fund grant from the Heinz Endowments, said the museum’s president and co-director Barbara Luderowski.

516 Sampsonia will add 2,500 square feet of exhibit space for the museum and will house permanent fixtures and traveling exhibits. There will also be a garden in the back that will be used for events and education programs on urban gardening.

O’Leary estimates the renovation will take six to eight months. The Mattress Factory hopes to have its first exhibit opening in fall of 2012.

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