A building that for many years went to the function of the community will now play host to its heart and spirit.
Menasha’s former City Hall is getting new life as a creative centerpiece in the Fox Cities.
The community will get its first look at Menasha Market — One Forty Main during an opening celebration on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
It’ll serve as a place for creation, admiration, inspiration and some good, old fashioned commerce.
It’ll include a grocery and food court. Its first-floor space will feature an expansive year-round pop-up market. It’s a place for visitors to discover artists and bring home the works that speak to them. It’s a place for artists to reach a wider audience and draw some income from their efforts.
Artists and creators can acquire retail space in a variety of sizes for short-term engagements to lengthier stays.
“It’s always going to be new, fresh and different when people come back into the space,” said curator Jean Detjen.
It’s a concept that fits well with Downtown Menasha, which has long been in a state of reinvention and flourishing.
Traditional downtown commerce took new turns in Menasha with greater use of its waterfront from its marina to trails and park space. One Menasha Center opened the downtown as a workplace to far more people. It set the stage for more dining and entertainment. Main Street has long been a draw for its galleries and boutiques.
Saturday’s event will include refreshments, wine and craft beer. Catch the RosaJ live paper art demo from noon to 3 p.m. Nicholas Raymond will provide live music from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The full fledged grand opening for One Forty Main doesn’t arrive until January, though the market will be open through the holiday season to those who don’t mind a little dust and construction.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Detjen said. “It’s very grassroots and it’s unfolding as we speak.”
The soft opening is just as much about showing creators how the space can work for them.
One Forty Main staff will supply creators with full retail and checkout services during hours of operation. The team will also provide marketing, promotion and curation.
Winter market dates will run from Nov. 23 to Jan. 31. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A significant exhibit will greet visitors with the official grand opening on Jan. 4.
“The Seuss Perspective” featuring exclusive works of Dr. Seuss will be a permanent gallery adjacent to the Menasha Market space. It is the world’s largest private collection with more than 70 pieces of art.
Detjen said the project is an important step toward a more robust creative economy in the Fox Cities.
“It’s something we want the community to be proud of,” she said.