SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – After searching for a studio space in Springfield for more than two decades, one couple might have finally found what could be one. Kate Baird and her husband Mike Stevens are looking into the old Doling Elementary School on West Atlantic Street.
OzarksFirst spoke with Baird, who says she is talking with Springfield Public Schools (SPS) to buy the building, and turn it into what would be called the “New Moon Studio Space.”
“We want it to be a place for artists,” Baird said. “We have a really great arts community in Springfield, and this is just one piece that we don’t have yet.”
The building Kate and Mike are hoping to own has more than 100 years of history.
“That’s one of my favorite things about walking through now is you can see teachers had decorated their rooms differently,” Kate said. “They’re just such beautiful rooms.”
Doling Elementary School was built in 1916, and it closed down in 2002. But, the building has been used in other ways since then. School resource officers have trained there.
Even to this day, parts of the former school live on.
“That’s always exciting,” Baird said.
There’s still a message on a classroom chalkboard that says, “Do something with this building.” Whoever wrote that may get their wish if Baird is able to buy the property.
“Still in the early stages,” Baird said. “I mean obviously people have studios in Springfield, but there’s no sort of dedicated space where a community of people who are doing creative work can do that in proximity to each other.”
At New Moon Studio Space, people would be able to rent private or shared rooms in the building for six months to a year. OzarksFirst asked Baird how much it would cost to rent a studio. She says she doesn’t want money to be an issue for anyone, no matter where they’re at in their career.
“The aesthetic properties of the school we think are so fantastic,” Baird said. “We want to leave those to the greatest extent possible while making it a building that’s safe and functional in 2022.”
Baird says making this happen will take a lot of time and money, but it’ll be worth it for Springfield.
“An analogy I’ve been thinking about is if physical fitness and health and wellness were really important to you and there was no gym, you might conclude that, ‘Yeah, this isn’t a good place for me,” Baird said. “I think it’s kind of like that. If you’re thinking about whether to stay in Springfield and you’re an artist, and you look around and realize there’s not really a physical space where you can do your work, you might decide this isn’t a place for you. But we want it to be a place for artists.”