Monique Priestley grew up in Piermont. She's always been very plugged in locally. When Hill's 5 & 10, Bradford's one and only department store, closed in 2015, Priestly, as well as many local residents were crushed. Hill's had been community fixture and gathering space since the 1959. So Priestley started to do some thinking and some talking. She pulled together her local contacts through the Cohase Chamber of Commerce and the Bradford Business Association and sent out a request to folks to ask them what they'd like to see in Bradford. The response was immediate and robust - over 300 people responded. What did they want? A place that would support co-working, maker space, conference rooms, wellness practices, an art gallery, and the flexibility to support other activities.
Now once you meet Priestley, you'll know she is no slouch. Marshaling her desire to strengthen and give back to her community, Priestley set her mind to turning the former Hill's location into all of those things and more. So she leased the space at 174 Main Street from the building's owners who also own Colatina Exit, the popular Italian restaurant next door, and got to work, relying in large part on contractor John Horton from Haverhill to complete the space's transformation. All you have to do is go and see it to believe it. It? The Space is simply wonderful and has all the ingredients to become a thriving community center in a score of different ways than its predecessor, Hill's 5 & 10.
Some open co-working space
Some open co-working space downstairs
Conference room - available to rent!
The Space on Main, as Priestley has named it, is beautiful. The 7,000 square feet space on two levels has been renovated to include multiple rooms to support several private offices, a large maker space, conference rooms, teaching space, video production, wellness treatment rooms (think massage, physical therapy, nutritional counseling) and quiet phone booths. It also boasts an enormous main floor that's the home to more co-working space including 3 large booths, 7 standalone tables with multiple chairs spread throughout and a kitchen. Lest I forget, the first floor also showcases artwork from local artists all over the walls. It opened for business just a few weeks ago.
Event space for classes or get togethers
Other side of event space
Maker space on first level
What kind of people are using The Space? So far, a bunch of really different folks. People who've already purchased memberships at The Space work in global finance, software development, cyber security and the public sector. A local company that is currently building out its own space uses The Space's conference room for staff meetings. Yoga classes are offered and there is a regular menu of public events. (You don't need to be a member to rent space for events.) Upcoming events include a Chamber-sponsored tax workshop and a Chakra workshop. Priestley says there is no typical profile of her members - they vary and include people who need to get away from their homes to find quiet work space, people who want to get out of their pajamas to go to work, people who work remotely in different time zones, and people who just want to work in a space with some other people sometimes.
Monique Priestley at her desk
Booths and open space working tables
The Space on Main is a non-profit. In order to pay for the initial $100,000 in renovation costs, Priestly raised funds from local foundations and organizations as well as locals. Two of her biggest donors so far have been the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation. Bradford-based Copeland Furniture donated $10,000 in furniture to outfit The Space and those dollars can be seen in part in the beautiful walnut tables and desks that grace The Space. Priestley hopes that fees charged for membership and event/space rentals, together with continuing support from local non-profits and community members, will support its operations.
There are flexible levels of membership - starting at $100 a month for access to common area desks on Monday - Friday from 9-5. The next level is $150 a month and that gets you the basics plus 24/7 access (via key app on your phone - cool!). If you'd like your own dedicated desk, the membership fee is $250 a month. All membership levels come with special training offerings and access to select social media groups.
Painting by local artist Stephanie Gordon adorns the walls
The Space's stated mission is to "foster entrepreneurship, innovation, the arts, education, health, and recreation in order to increase opportunity for personal and collective growth in the Cohase Region of Vermont and New Hampshire by providing a creative facility with access to affordable equipment, work spaces, and classes. It is our goal to ensure prosperity of our community by leveraging talent in the region by creating pathways to outside individuals, services, and technologies." It's off to an impressive start.
Support The Space on Main and its admirable mission of making a stronger community by bringing people together. Think about going on a tour with Priestley and becoming a member. Think about renting one of its beautiful rooms for your next event. Check out The Space on Main's website at https://thespaceonmain.org/
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