Local Treasures with Pia: Music Conservatory of Sandpoint

The Music Conservatory of Sandpoint is blossoming

Sandpoint, Idaho – The former Sandpoint City Hall (110 Main Street) has been bustling with musicians since it became the home of the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint 12 years ago. About 500 students take classes in various instruments, voice and orchestra performance at the thriving school which bought the old building in 2019.

The stately brick building is from 1910 and began its civic life as the new city hall in early 1911. At the time, both police and fire departments had offices there alongside city officials, and downstairs was the barn that held the fire department’s horses and carriages.

This former carriage area – which has two large rollup doors to the outside – is being restored and will soon debut as a street-level, interactive performance space that can be completely open to the outside.

“We are removing all barriers and inviting people to just walk in,” said Karin Wedemeyer, Executive Director of Music Conservatory of Sandpoint. “Creative place-making is concept we embrace, and it also helps us to preserve an old building.”

Like all 100-year-old buildings the Old City Hall needs a little help to be fully functional. New windows for the upstairs arched brick frames will be built to fit as the renovation of the building continues.

“This is type of restoration is very common in Europe,” Wedemeyer said. “You find a way to update an old building and make it functional.”

MCS board president Kathi Samuels said they are trying to bring the building back to its old glory, and that’s how the search for the huge original bell got underway.

“The bell was in a copula on the top of the building. It was taken down in the 1950s and no one was sure where it was,” Samuels said.

Samuels said the Bonner County Historical Museum started a search for the bell, and it was longtime volunteer Bob Camp who spotted it at Way Out West Antiques, near Spokane.

Way Out West Antiques is a familiar sight to I-90 travelers near the Four Lakes exit: it’s ‘that place with the spaceship.’

“It was unbelievable, but he had the bell. It was sitting right there next to the spaceship on his lawn,” Samuels said.

Wedemeyer was on the way to Costco when Samuels got the call confirming that it was indeed the right bell – she rerouted her trip to Spokane.

“I already had a check with me, it was like it was meant to be,” Wedemeyer said. “This means so much to us. I’m so incredibly happy that we found the bell and could bring it back to Sandpoint.”

The Music Conservatory of Sandpoint plans to have its first public event in the old carriage area on June 27 at 5 p.m.

Learn more about the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint.

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