Old Mt. Zion Grade School transforms into one-of-a-kind art cent - Wandtv.com, NewsCenter17, StormCenter17, Central Illinois News-

Old Mt. Zion Grade School transforms into one-of-a-kind art center

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It's gone from a grade school to an art center.  In January, the former Mt. Zion Grade School opened as the Heroic Age Art Center.

From the outside, it still looks like the grade school from 1938. But on the inside, classrooms are turning into pottery shops and photography studios.  But each room is still preserving that grade school look and feel.  Next of Kiln and Laura Webb Photography moved in. Each room is designed by the renter and the artists have chosen to keep parts of the original grade school like windows, walls and blackboards. Eric Hector is the mastermind behind the transformation. He's the creative director of Heroic Age Studios, which has been in Mt. Zion for 22 years. Now, he's in the process of moving his space and using this spot for his full service production company.  He looks forward to having the added space for features like a sound stage. Hector hopes to have the entire building filled by end of the year.

"Knowing that there are a lot of talented artists that have worked for me around here I know that when you get a lot of artists together that really interesting, creative things can happen, and I thought this would be an ideal place to get all the talented kind of people in the area, give them a place to really grow their businesses,' Hector explained.

There are 10 to 11 spaces still available to rent. Hector said he's had interest from painters, jewelry makers and furniture designers to fill those spots. Rent is negotiable and it starts as low as $175.

Hector said there's nothing like this hub of creativity in Mt. Zion. He's had offers to move his studios to bigger cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles but he said he likes to keep this center local because this is where he's been his entire life. Hector can give a tour of the new facility whenever someone is interested.

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