Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Buy Local - Installment 3

I ran across these posters produced by the American Independent Business Alliance.

I guess that tells the whole story.

For our readers who are businesses you can purchase these posters through the American Independent Business Alliance website on their merchandise page - click here. for more information, they're very affordable!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Buy Local, Installment II

We are thrilled to be in business in Downtown New Bern after 19 years.

So many of our customers have become our friends.

And so have the artists.

I know 90% of the people that make the things we sell. Many, I've been to their studios and watched them work. I know their kids and their spouses. They've become friends too.

We share information. I was at a show a couple weeks ago and one of our artists was telling me about some new work she was doing, she was firing at a lower temperature than she was used to and was having problems with bubbles in the glaze. I've had the same problem and told her how I fixed it. We were having cracking issues and another told us how to prevent them.

It would be impossible for all of our customers to know all these artists but we're all connected. The customer to us, us to the artist. We see things an artist makes, and know which of our customers would like it.

We buy supplies around the corner at Art Materials, they buy from us.

We make tiles and buy the glue we use on the back, we buy screws, lightbulbs, keys, tools, plumbing parts, sandpaper at Mitchell Hardware. Every year I look forward to the evenings I stay open late during December and Mitchell Hardware comes shopping for Christmas, or birthdays or whatever.

We buy lunch at Cow Cafe, Capt Ratty's, Port City Java, Bakers Square, to name a few. And they buy from us.

And on and on.

It's a different life than a lot of people know.

We have customers that we've had since the day we opened on Middle Street. We know their kids and have watched their families grow.

We know parents with kids at camp. They come every year. Then they'll disappear for a few years and the kids come back as counselors, they get married, then their kids come to camp and on its goes. Almost every year I do a special series of gifts that are given to Camp doctors, or Board members. They buy from us, we buy from the guy around the corner, the guy around the corner sends his kids to camp.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Buying Local, Installment 1

Today I read in USA Weekend an article called Local & Loving it, One writer's quest to help her community by celebrating birthdays closer to home. The author is Natalie Ermann Russell.

It made me think about how we live.

Michael and I live in Downtown New Bern, we walk to work - Carolina Creations, we walk to the Post Office, we walk to the Galley Stores, Mitchell Hardware, One World Shoppe, Four Cs, Chelsea Restaurant, Captain Ratty's, Nauti Paws, Julliettes, the Pepsi Store, Bear Essentials, Branchs and on on and on.

We walk around Union Point Park and over to the Sheraton, soon to be Hilton, and eat on the deck and look at all the Yachts. It makes me feel like I'm on vacation, and I can do it every day!! How lucky can you get.

I'm digressing here but we LOVE our new house. With all the windows and the view I feel like I'm on a cruise ship. We see all the way down the Neuse River in both directions. I can lay in bed and see sail boats and out another window the steeple of First Baptist church. When I climb the stairs to the second floor the steeple of City Hall is framed in a window. I can see the onion on the top of the Sudan Temple and the Craven County Courthouse steeple.

Now back to the buying local theme!

Natalie said in her article "There are good reasons for buying local. It reduces the need for shipping, which reduces pollution, and it supports the local community. A study we did found that for every $100 spent in a chain store, $14 went back into the local economy. for a locally owned business it was $45."

"Locally owned businesses buy a lot of services from other local businesses. So by buying from one local business, you're not only supporting that business, you're supporting other local businesses."

I know you can't buy everything locally but like Ann Bartz with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies says you should look locally first.

The closest shop to our house is the Galley Stores, they have meat, vegetables (both fresh and frozen - btw the frozen corn is the freshest I've ever tasted) spaghetti sauce, cake mix etc.. Did you know that they buy from restaurant suppliers so much of the frozen items are the same quality you would eat in a restaurant. They have a great selection of beer and wine, bread, milk, cleaning supplies, etc. It is a miniature grocery store and it sells gas as well. How more local can you get - 40 steps from my front door!

At Carolina Creations we sell the paintings I do and the pottery that Michael and I make in our East Front Street pottery. The clay we use comes from North Carolina. I buy my painting supplies at Art and Materials on Middle Street 3 blocks from my home.

Some other New Bern artists whose work we carry are Stan Harmon fused glass panels, pottery by Jim Bisbee and Carolyn Curran, paintings by Ruth Heppler, Rita Fugimagari, T Rader, and regionally we represent Michael Brown furniture, soft sculpture by Suzanne Coatta, paintings by Salay Anger, Mary Page Whitley, Janet Atkins, and on and on. All these artists buy their groceries and clothes locally with dollars they earn creating their products and selling them through our gallery. It's a real boon to our local economy when we can keep our money in town.

I want to thank Mike Foster and NPR for the ads they've been running about shopping locally. And I would also like to thank NPR, the Sun Journal, The Herald, the Greenbrier Gazette and all the other local papers, Arts Alive, New Bern Magazine and WITN for the free coverage they gave to our Downtown events through the Dickens of a Christmas.

I'm calling this post Buy Local, Installment 1, and will write future posts about what you can buy locally in Downtown New Bern!

Ciao, Jan Francoeur

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pansy season

It's pansy time here, having grown up in Michigan I still find it hard to believe (after 20 years living in New Bern) that pansies bloom outside here all winter.

We are in zone 8 being so close to the Gulf Stream.

Pansies are very popular here so Michael and I have been making pottery "Pansy Rings" - a vase for short stemmed flowers.

Michael throws them and I decorate them.

They also work great for camelias and my favorite gardenias.

They measure about 4 1/2" across and 1 " tall.

If you're interested in one visit our website by clicking here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Our tree

Michael made this Christmas tree on our 2nd floor porch out of strings of lights.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tryon Palace Makes Time Magazines Top 10 List of Places in the Nation to Find the Most Holiday Cheer

We were thrilled to read that Time Magazine honored Tryon Palace by naming it one of the Top 10 Places in the nation to visit for Christmas.

We've known all along it was a GREAT place!

Read all about it!

Tryon Palace is just4 blocks from our house on Pollock Street. On Saturday night we were able to look out the back window of our house and watch the fireworks that wrapped up the candlelight tours for this year.

Not a bad street to live on!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Street

Here are a few photos of our street, Pollock Street. Our gallery is in the 300 block and our house is in the 200 block.

The 200 block where our house is is lined with B & B's.

City Hall is across the street from our gallery.

Further down on Pollock Street in the 600 block is Tryon Palace, our citys biggest atraction (2nd only to our location at the confluence of the Neuse & Trent rivers.)

More about Tryon Palace in my next blog entry

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Here it is December 20

Boy have I been a slow blogger this month!

I've been in the gallery every day since Thanksgiving so haven't had much time to think about anything other than business.

We are really pleased with the reception our first year of "A Dickens of a Christmas" has gotten.

I thought I had photos of every one of our story boards but it seems I'm missing some. We'll pick them up from the merchants the week after christmas and get photos of them all and post them.

With all the downward pressure we have, Broad Street, the Bridge, the tanked economy, we are thrilled that we've been busy! Between being open extra hours, our website sales and phone sales we are only slightly behind 2007 which was a banner year for us.

We have friends with galleries in Boston, San Francisco, Denver and Houston that are all suffering with the economy. My family lives in Michigan and they are REALLY hurting with whats going on in the auto industry. No matter what your business is or what you do for a living, every single person in Michigan is affected by the auto industry, like it or not. So we're keeping our fingers crossed that things turn around for them soon.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank every one of our customers for their support and hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gift Guide

Here are some gift ideas in every price range

We have gifts Under $25
Beautiful nail files - $14, $16, $20
New Bern Ornaments - $12
Soy Candles - $6.50
Funky Reindeer - $16
Collegiate Wine Glasses - $15
New Bern Wine Glasses - $17
New Bern Tea Towel - $16
Bear Christmas Ornament - $15
Solemate Socks - $18
A variety of Christmas Earrings - $14 & up
New Bern Notecards - $5
Hand crafted soap - $4.75 - $10
Stuart Nye Earrings - $11 & up
New Bern Desk Calendar - $15
Hand blown glass ornaments - $24
Journals by Brush Dance, Moleskin, Exaclair and others - $8.95 to $25
Clever Toothbrush Holders - $9.95-$12
Pansy Rings - $16
and lots more!

Jewelry by over 25 artists earrings $25 & up
Moving Sand Sculptures $54 or $74
Blown Glass Starfish - $34
Flying ladies papier mache - $44 to $72
New Bern Coasters, set of 4 - $42.50
Neuse River Coasters, set of 4 - $42.50
Neuse River Clock - $44
Framed New Bern Prints - $38-$75
Maruca purses - $26-$74
Hand decorated tile of New Bern landmarks - $54
Hand Crafted Wood boxes - $24 to $74
Hand blown wine glasses - $74
Pottery made in New Bern by Janet & Michael Francoeur - $24-$75
Pottery made in New Bern by Jim Bisbee - 34-$74
Hand crafted wood trays - $44 & $54

$76 and Up
14kt gold jewelry by Ben Dyer and others
Original paintings by regional artists
Clay sculptureSteel Clocks
Leaf Leather pursesBlown glass by Josh Simpson and other glass blowers
Large jewelry boxes
Ceramics by over 30 professional artists
Watches by Watchcraft, Skagen, Ann Allen, Sandy Baker
One of a kind Plaques by Sticks - $115
Lazy Susans by Sticks - $385
Small frames by Sticks - $144
And of course LOTS MORE!
Visit our website www.carolinacreations.com or better yetstop in!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's Hot?

My friend Greg was in tonight and asked "what's the hot item this year - that you didn't expect?"

Well we have been surprised that our glass nail files are just FLYING out of the gallery! when I first heard about them I was skeptical, a nail file? Big deal I said. But we're always looking for gifts under $20 so said sure, send us some.

That was October 1 and today we're waiting for our 5th order to arrive. They make a great stocking stuffer, gift for the girls at the office, etc. For more information click Nailfiles.

Another is lip balm - go figure. This lip balm is "a one-of-a-kind lip moisturizer that is equal parts fashion statement and sun protection confection. Exclusively patented and formed for your inner trend setter, this stylish sphere is bound to be the envy of lip addicts everywhere. Packed with the latest and greatest in pucker protection technology, Ballmania delivers a crucial combination of oils, butters and full spectrum UVA/UVB lip armor."

It comes in a ball that opens, it's easy to find in the bottom of your purse because of the shape. Lip Balm We used it on our face one day to prevent getting a sun burn, we smelled like vanilla but we didn't get burned.

Other "hot items" are the ever popular mismatched socks, moving sand pictures, our pansy rings, funky clay reindeer, our exclusive New Bern Wine Glasses and tea towels, the New Bern desk calendar, blown glass ornaments, Michaels and my Celebration Pottery, The Carolina Hooker to name a few.

We've got 2 weeks until Christmas! It's an exciting and beautiful time in downtown new bern.

Jan Francoeur

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This weekend

There is a lot going on Downtown this weekend!

We'll have our luminaries on Friday evening 5-8pm with a Dickens of a Christmas Trolley Tours at 5:30 & 7.

At 6:30 the Downtown residents association is going to be caroling in the business district.

16 shops and restrauants will be open friday evening until 8 pm (at least).

The Nutcracker is this weekend only at the civic theatre, The Holly and Ivy Tour, the Candlelight Tour at Tryon Palace.

On sunday there is a Dickens Christmas at the Library and don't forget that there are 14 shops and restaurants open Downtown on Sunday. Our hours are 11-5.

For the details on these events go to www.downtownnewbern.blogspot.com.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Anne Marie Chagnon

Lou came back from a trip with a fabulous piece of jewelry by Anne Marie Chagnon last year. We tracked her down and have been representing her work since.

Anne-Marie is a graduate of Fine Arts of the Université du Québec à Montréal, Anne-Marie creates her scupltural jewelry inside a constant research of asymmetric equilibrium. Her jewelery reflects the creator, at once eccentric and aethestic, intriguing and seductive. Her pieces are made from fine pewter, glass and pvc. Never Common, always unique.

“From as far as I can remember, I always loved making all sorts of objects. As a child, I recycled my mom’s jewels, making new ones by welding them with my dad’s tools. Today the materials have changed but the passion has remained intact, whole and bold.”

Her work is VERY COOL!

We have some pieces on our website. Click here

Friday, December 05, 2008

December Slow Blogging

December is always a tough time for me to do anything but finish commissions and be in the gallery.

With our newly revamped website we are not only busy in the gallery but we're busy online as well. Since we've been listening to the news we're thrilled that we are busy!

In the next few days I'll post some new pieces we've just finished and talk about some new artists like Anne Marie Chagnon and her very unusual jewelry.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bob Rickart - About the Artist

We met Bob and his wife Jacqueline at a show 3 or 4 years ago and we always look forward to seeing them 2 or 3 times a year. They came to New Bern last fall, right after we moved into our new house.

Bobs work is great and we love the fact that men love it, you know how hard it is to find things for guys.

Bob was in college in the 60s and started out in the theatre designing, building and lighting stage sets. He went on to stage productions for a regional California theatrical company.

After starting a family Bob switched to designing computer software, which he continued to do for the next 30 years.

Now he's back creating art. It started with puttering in the garage, and has now turned into a vocation that allows him to travel across the country working with galleries.

His tools are those common to metal fabrication shops: saws, shear, brake, torch, plasma cutter, welder, drill press, grinder, blast cabinet, spray booth.

We currently carry Bobs clocks, to see more or to purchase go to our website

This coming year we're working with Bob to have some of his larger wall pieces.

Many people stand and puzzle trying to figure out what materials he uses. It's aluminum and auto paint.

We'd love to help you find the perfect piece for your home or business. Bob always welcomes commissions.!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Meet the artist behind Mismatched Socks - made in NC and they're "green"

Marianne Wakerlin, is the founder and owner of Sol Mate Socks. We met Marianne at a show in Philadelphia in 2005 when she just got started.

The company is named after her mom, Sunny, who taught Marianne how to knit. Marianne continued to knit for the next 40 years, but it wasn’t until she started knitting socks that her real passion was born.

"I found it exhilarating, designing a pair of socks that didn't match and were knit in random patterns with multiple colors. I loved my finished socks!" Within a few years Marianne had knit over one hundred pairs of socks for family and friends, and she decided to turn her hobby into a business.

Her colorful and complex patterns are knit in North Carolina at a family owned knitting mill, hand finished and mismatched.

Not only are they great looking and comfortable, everyone at Carolina Creations has at least 1 pair, but they are also knit using recycled cotton yarns. These yarns are recovered from the production of other cotton products (mainly t-shirts), and re-blended with other fibers and spun into yarns for Solmate Socks.

You can purchase socks online on our Carolina Creations website click here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You're invited!!

On Friday we're having an open house and You're Invited!!

Not only is Carolina Creations having an open house but so is Mitchell Hardware, Craven Arts Council, the Four C's, the Next Chapter Bookstore, Juliette's Boutique, Nauti Paws Boutique & Bakery, The Pepsi Store, the Accidental Artist, One World Shoppe-Life is Good, SnapDragon, BoatHouse, Green, the Galley Stores and Bear Essentials!

You can read the story "A Christmas Carol", eat, and shop your way through Downtown New Bern all day Friday and Friday night as well! Our streets will be lined with luminaries 5-8 pm, and 15 shops will be open until 8 pm.

The Dickens of a Christmas Trolley Tour is at 5:30 and 7 pm each Friday through Christmas. Call for reservations!

New Bern Tours & Convention Services
333 Middle Street
New Bern, NC 28560
Phone: 252.637.7316
Toll Free: 800.849.7316

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Here are some of them - rest to come!t

Friday, November 21, 2008

Trail of Flames - a new African-American History Tour

In 1922 there was a huge fire in New Bern. One person was killed, 18 injured and 3200 people were made homeless. Of those 3180- were black and 20 were white. Twenty five hundred people were housed by the Red Cross.

Over 1000 buildings were destroyed.

A new website is being developed about the fire, it won't be launched until January 1, 2009 but click here and bookmark the site.

There will be a tour on December 1st. Meet at 9 am for Breakfast at the Firemans Museum and the cost is $20. Call New Bern Tours and Convention Services, 637-7316.

I have read some accounts by people who were children when the fire took place. The fire started early in the morning and was fanned by high winds.

It eventually leveled 40 blocks and some victims lived in tents for over 9 months.

This should be an interesting tour, you won't want to miss it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Centuries of Celebrations
at Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens

The Tryon Palace Christmas Candlelight Tours have been recognized as one of the Top 20 Holiday Events in the southeastern United States by the Southeast Tourism Society since 2004. This year’s festivities offer visitors an opportunity to experience the holiday traditions that make the Tryon Palace holiday celebrations so very special.

The 2008 holiday season celebration begins the Friday after Thanksgiving, and runs through the end of December.

Centuries of Celebrations at the Palace recreates two major festive occasions from December 1770---the grand opening of the Palace, North Carolina’s first permanent capitol and government house---and a birthday celebration for King George III.

Contemporary accounts of the day confirm this celebration was such a grand party that it deserved a place in history. Dancing, dining and various other entertainment popular with eighteenth century partygoers contributed to the December 1770 revelry. Twenty-first century visitors will enjoy experiencing an array of diversions guaranteed to put everyone in a festive spirit.

Of course, the spectacular nature-inspired decorations that are the hallmarks of the Tryon Palace holiday season will once again beautifully complement each historic building. In addition to the Palace and the site’s three historic homes, the Museum Shop and the New Bern Academy Museum will also be decked out for the holidays.

Natural holiday arrangements will be accented using oyster shells, red and green apples, pine cones, juniper berries, lotus pods, tallow berries, peacock feathers, and lots of greenery. The holiday decorations will also feature beautiful dried flowers, including celosia, larkspur, and yarrow.

Candlelight tours on Saturday, December 13 and December 20 will offer an even greater variety of entertainment both inside and outside the Palace. At 5 p.m. the Fife & Drum Corps leads visitors through the entrance where they will encounter strolling minstrels and costumed characters portraying colonial New Bernians who will gladly recount stories about their lives in the eighteenth century. Crowd pleasing Signora Bella, the Italian equilibrist, is back this year to everyone’s delight. Otto the Sword Swallower has also returned to amaze young and not-so-young visitors with his impossible feats and daring.

Holiday tours are offered November 28 through December 31, 2008. Daily tours run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Evening Candlelight tours focus on the Palace complex only and are scheduled for Saturday, December 13 and 20, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $15 adults, $6 students and tickets are valid for two days. Advance tickets are on sale now by calling 252.514.4935. For more information call 252-514-4900 or e-mail info@tryonpalace.org. Out of state visitors may call 1-800-767-1560

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

They are finished and being delivered tomorrow!

Just this evening I put the finishing touches on the storyboards telling the story "A Christmas Carol" for the windows of our Downtown merchants.

We'll be delivering them tomorrow.

Here is another sneak peak as they looked in my studio tonight. They are 6' tall!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In the News - Amazed at how many people get up early!

We had a nice turnout Friday for the ArtWalk despite the rain most of the day. Many, many people told me both Friday and Saturday that they saw me on tv, a show that aired from 5-7 am.

I want to thank both WITN and Heather and Jim as well as Phil Knight for allowing me to be on their shows.

Phil had Greg and I on talking about the upcoming "Dickens of a Christmas" in Downtown New Bern on his Daily Neuse Show.

Here's a link to his website link. I've been told that the segment will air again tomorrow night (Monday) but I have not confirmed that.
I didn't know that his show is Simulcast LIVE at 8am on 1490ESPN in the New Bern area, on the internet at 1490ESPN.com, Live Weekdays 8 am - 9 am with rebroadcasts at 5 & 11 pm, and Previous Interviews are available by clicking here, and then selecting "On-Demand" although I didn't find our interview yet.

On Friday WITN came for their WITN On The Road segment. I met Heather and the camera man (I'm sorry I cannot remember his name) at 4 AM at our gallery. I am a night person and would more likely be still up at 4 than getting up at 4. I was able to get up at 3:30 and meet them, they were driving in from Greenville so must have had to get up at 2 am.

Anyway we got all set up and Jim arrived at about 4:30. I can't say enough how nice all 3 of them were and they mentioned Carolina Creations, Downtown New Bern and the ArtWalk no less than 50 times. It was a great experience and we really appreciate it. I am going to go talk to Heather again in a week or so about "A Dickens of a Christmas". I'll keep you posted on the date.

And last but not least Charlie Hall from the Sun Journal came to my studio several times in the past couple weeks to see Carol and I painting the Storyboards for a "Dickens of a Christmas". Here's a link to the story, we got A WHOLE PAGE, Wow!

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Segway Tours in New Bern!

Did you know we now have our very own Segway Tours in Downtown New Bern? We haven't taken the tour yet but we will.

From their website:

About The Seller: There are many great historic, educational, and entertaining places to explore in North Carolina. Add to that the thrill of gliding on a Segway PT and you have Tarheel Adventures!

The owners, Neal and Lorine Davis, are native North Carolinians who enjoy traveling across their home state and are always searching for new and fun places to explore. Neal is a career entrepreneur and Lorine is the Executive Director of an Education Foundation.

They began touring on the Segway PT in 2008 and have "glided" from the mountains to the coast. Neal and Lorine are your tour guides and have extensive personal knowledge of the venues they've selected. The historical and educational information they share is second to none... and they guarantee a fabulous Segway experience.

Come enjoy our tours... "with the wind in your hair and a smile on your face." Tarheel Adventures... the better way to Segway!

Very cool.

Here's a link to their website where you can read about the tours and buy your ticket.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ArtWalk November 14 5-8 pm

You're invited to ArtWalk this Friday evening from 5-8 pm! We're having the opening for our Nativity and Hand crafted ornament show, as well as new work from our gallery artists, T Rader, Lou Plummer, Kathleen Master and others.

Here are few of our featured nativities!

From top to bottom:

By Justine - I am going down to glaze the pieces I created during my visit this summer to work with Justine. See previous blog entry.

I am also going to pick up some of her wise women sculptures.

They are 3 figures of wise women, as opposed to wise men.

The wise women "Would have brought better gifts, would have asked for directions and would have helped clean up afterwards". Justine in her usual irreverent style.

Next we have white porcelain nativities by Sue Burkart Chisholm. These pieces are hand built (as are Justines pieces) .

Finishing touches on the Nativity are derived from a collection of antiques and other treasures that span 5 generations and 3 continents.

Beginning with a slab of damp clay; forms are cut, and the textures are embedded. The delicate slab is folded or drape and a body develops. Finger prints and “life lines" are this artist's immediate signature. The life lines are on the backside where the "body" was cradled in one hand, while the other hand shaped the robe. Finger prints are everywhere. Muggy days in Georgia allows more lifelines, and finger prints to appear in the clay.

The Lists of Textures:

Joseph's robe is impressed with a cut glass salt shaker.
Mary's robe is lace.
Baby Jesus' swaddling cloth is embedded with a fruit strainer.
The kneeling shepherd's robe is impressed with chair caning.
The wise men's robe has window hardware and a button.
The manger is impressed with old barn wood.
The donkey texture is from a mold of a 1947 Willis jeep tire.
The camel's texture is a wooden block stamp.
The ram's texture is a Georgia peach pit.
The ewe's texture is the butt end of a cinnamon stick.
The lamb's texture is a sea shell
The black sheep " grandmother's favorite" farm animal has a bolt for texture

Next we have Nativities by Sarah Grant and her Sticks Studio.

Each piece is hand carved, wood burned and hand painted.

I've posted many of our nativities on our website in a Holiday Collection. To visit and/or to purchase click here.

This is going to be a long week!
Monday night Michael and I went to the HDRA, Historic District Residents Association meeting to hear about the Elks Building.

On Tues at 7:15 am I picked Greg up and we went and talked about "A Dickens of a Christmas" on the Phil Knight Show" on Community TV Channel 10. We had a great time and Phil was an engaging host.

Wednesday I left at 7 am for Justines and returned in time to go to a painting class at Art and Materials at 6 pm. Attended a Board meeting of the Craft Retailers Association for Tomorrow via the phone while glazing my pieces at Justines.

Thursday I have a 9:30 am meeting with an artist before opening the Gallery at 10.

Then Friday morning we are hosting WITN News at Sunrise in the Gallery to talk about ArtWalk that evening. We are thrilled that our Gallery was chosen to host this. The only hitch is that the news team arrives at 4 AM!!!! Heather King will be doing the interviewing. I've invited T Rader to talk about his work as well as Chris from Art & Materials to talk about what they are hosting that evening. So starting the day at 4 am and finishing at 9 pm. It's going to be a long but rewarding day.

Whew! Hope to see you Friday night, Jan Francoeur

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Elks Temple Building, Downtown New Bern

On Monday night I heard a representative of Empire Properties speak about the Elks Building, which they purchased last year. The de-construction phase is underway.

Even with the downturn in the economy the work continues.

He said it should be finished this time next year, just in time for the 300th.

At this time the plans seem to be a restaurant on the 1st floor, 3 floors of office space and the use of the top floor is still up in the air.

From "Souvenir of New Bern, North Carolina" (New Bern, N.C.: Owen G. Dunn, Co., 1910?), 68 p. A history of New Bern produced for the Bicentennial Celebration in 1910, this volume also includes illustrations of many of New Bern's attractions and businesses, we have the following excerpt:

The Elks’ Temple, a new 5-story, yellow brick building, completed just a year ago by the Elk’s Construction Co., local capitalists, contains a large department store, office rooms and public library, with the Elk’s lodge and club rooms on the 5th floor, the latter being unquestion­ably the handsomest furnished lodge and club rooms in the entire South. The views of the harbor and surrounding country from the lofty club rooms, excite the admiration of all who visit the city. A party of Rhode Island veterans of the civil war, among whom are ex-Chief Justice Douglass, of Providence, Rhode Island, were the guests of this club in last July, on the occasion of the selection of a suitable site in the National cemetery here, on which to erect a beautiful monument commemorating the valor of their fallen dead who lie buried in the cemetery at New Bern. These distinguished gentlemen were profuse in praise of the remarkable cool and invigorating air found here in the summer and were most agreeably impressed with the marked improvements found on every hand. This building, furnished complete cost about $120,000. The Elk’s Lodge here has a membership of 225 who are the representative business men of the city.

A little about the developers whose headquarters is in Raleigh -

Empire Properties’ first historic preservation project, the 1995 renovation of a 1950s warehouse on West Street to house Jillian’s Billiards Club, inspired in Greg Hatem and partners Joe Hatem, Mickey Hatem and Bucky Ransdell, the desire to revitalize downtown Raleigh. The early success of this first project and their appreciation of old structures drove the formation of Empire Properties’ plan to complete one downtown Raleigh development project each year over the next five years. Other early redevelopment projects included Commerce Place, a 40,000-square-foot, 1950s four-building complex in the warehouse district (Depot District), and Peak Fitness (originally Capital Fitness), downtown Raleigh's only 24/7 health club housed in a renovated 24,000-square-foot 1950s warehouse on North Street.

Since 2000, Empire Properties’ success has enabled the company to accelerate its pace of redevelopment and historic preservation in downtown Raleigh. The full service real estate development company now owns and manages 41 downtown Raleigh properties that offer a range of office, retail and restaurant space. Downtown Raleigh buildings currently undergoing renovation by Empire Properties include: Heilig Levine, Odd Fellows Building, Raleigh Furniture Building and Raleigh Bonded Warehouse. The company also recently started work on three new real estate development projects:

The Lafayette, featuring luxury condominiums and a boutique hotel on Salisbury Street; David Allen Buildings, a mixed-use development in the Glenwood South area; and a mixed-use, collaborative project with Wake County on West Davie Street.

While its historic preservation, redevelopment and real estate development efforts have had a strong, positive impact on downtown Raleigh and its buildings, Empire Properties also has been intimately involved with the City of Raleigh’s efforts to revitalize downtown. From actively participating in the Livable Streets Partnership Steering Committee and the Fayetteville Street Visioning Team, to providing in-kind office space to the Raleigh Urban Design Center (a Division of the Department of City Planning), Empire Properties is deeply committed to brightening the future of downtown Raleigh.

For its real estate development and historic preservation efforts, Empire Properties has been recognized by the Raleigh City Council with the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Community Appearance, by the Triangle Business Journal with the Edge Award for Best General Contractor in an Urban Environment, and by the Triangle Commercial Real Estate Women with the Impact Award for work in restoring downtown Raleigh. Empire Properties also has received a number of Capital Area Preservation Anthemion Awards for its outstanding dedication and commitment to excellence in historic preservation.

An interesting good note was that this company "buys and holds", in other words they'll develop this building and maintain ownership.

Another interesting thing is that they have their own restaurants, one of which MAY be the type of restaurant that will be on the 1st floor.

We are thrilled that this building is finally getting some tlc.

To go to Empires website click here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tryon Palace History and Education Center

It's really happening!

Thank heavens the funding for the North Carolina History Education Center was already in place before our current economic crisis set in.

Construction has begun and we'll be following it on our blog.

The construction of this "green" building is going to get New Bern a lot of press for it's construction and when it's finished it will be a state of the art facility which should attract a new generation of tourists and history buffs.

As you can tell I'm pretty excited about it. I have a previous blog that talks a little more about it and a link to Tryon Palace's page that will tell you more.