In the later part of 2012 we started exploring St. Louis for a second location for The Firecracker Press. As our home-base on Cherokee Street started stacking up with posters and presses we began the search for more space. Something flexible. We needed heavy-duty floors, loading dock access, and 3-phase power. We wanted another storefront space, a supportive neighborhood, and room to grow. St. Louis is long on available property but finding the right fit surprised us. We ended up in a place for which we hadn’t planned, but couldn’t be more pleased.

At the urging of neighborhood supporters (both physical and fiscal) we took a tour of the old 14th Street Mall, now called Crown Square, in Old North. We’d looked there on a cold Winter day 10 years ago and were surprised to see the renovation project that’d taken place, more recently, in 2007-08. The folks from Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and Equifax showed us a nearly 8000 square foot space. It was big! It had everything we needed and it hadn’t been occupied since renovation. We would need to invent a new way of thinking about the future of The Firecracker Press. We set out to do that very thing.

With an interest in the space, and meetings with various parties a picture of the future started to develop. A non-profit organization would occupy a portion of the space, The Firecracker Press would share part of the footprint, and a venue for events would hold the whole thing together. An “arts center” where kids and adults could explore ideas, and a humming printshop would make a winning combination. Funding from Equifax was secured, the neighborhood loved the idea, and the property developers (Rise) were willing to work with us to build-out the space. More than a year later we’re almost ready to open the doors!

On the non-profit organization front we’ve been developing programing for community outreach, educational opportunities, and promoting printing history through useful preservation. We’ll have open studio hours for do-it-yourselfers, and welcome a full calendar of events. We’ll also have a retail shop and be teaching practical entrepreneurial skills.

On the Firecracker Press front we’ve been collecting lead/woodtype, and an army of antique presses that will make St. Louis the center of the letterpress map. We’ve acquired gear from several local printshops, typecasting equipment, and tools that connect the dots through printing history. You’ll be able to visit while we’re printing, take tours of the space, and learn about the printmaking timeline.

The St. Louis community has supported The Firecracker Press for over 12 years. With our already established location on Cherokee Street, a newly expanded space in Old North, and a non-profit organization we are very excited about reaching the community even more. We’re hosting a fundraising party on April 4th from 6-10pm to get the non-profit organization off the ground. Tickets can be purchasedhere. If you can’t attend the party but still want to support our cause that can be done here.

We’ve not come this far alone. We’ll need your support to move ahead!