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Creative couple transforms old factory

(Emily Thurlow)
Jamie and Asher Israelow purchased the former Housatonic Curtain Co. mill building last year and are transforming it into a shared workspace for several artistic and creative businesses.

By Emily Thurlow
HOUSATONIC — It’s no longer curtains for a Park Street mill.

Under the direction of wife and husband artists, Jamie and Asher Israelow, the former production facility for window treatment and home decor firm Housatonic Curtain Co. is in the process of becoming a shared creative workspace. After six decades, the curtain company went out of business in 2017. In its heyday, the firm had a total of 27 stores.

The Israelows purchased the 25,000 square-foot, four-story building for $500,000 last year and have since renamed it to the Studio for Integrated Craft (SIC). It currently houses both of the couple’s businesses, which includes Jamie’s textile firm, Hart, and Asher’s furniture company, Asher Israelow Studio.

With Hart, Jamie creates a variety of unique textiles like pillows, rugs and blankets. Her business will be housed on the fourth floor. Asher’s studio produces custom, contemporary, handcrafted and site-specific furniture that’s operating out of the third floor.

The couple moved to Great Barrington from Hudson Valley, New York.

But the Israelows won’t be the only artisans residing at the SIC.

“We want our building to be a place where a lot of interesting people will be doing a lot of interesting things,” said Jamie. “We want to foster professional creative community.”

Before the Housatonic Curtain Co. set up its production facility, the building operated as a textile mill, Monument Mills Co.

“The building has been a hub of creative activity since 1850, and we aim to keep that alive,” said Jamie.

In facilitating that environment, the Israelows are looking for occupants that are professionals making a living in the arts, crafts or design fields.

To support design, renovation and repairs in creating that vision, the couple has been awarded a $147,572 MassDevelopment’s Collaborative Workspace Program grant. The grant may be used for costs that incur through architectural, structural and engineering services, along with demolition, machinery removal and roof work. The goal of the state program is to accelerate the pace of new businesses and job creation, entrepreneurship and infrastructure improvement for community-based innovation, according to MassDevelopment’s website. The program has supported development for more than 7,000 users since 2016.

In addition to the Israelows, other tenants currently include, graphic design business MoHo Design Creative, which is owned and operated by Molly and Aurelien de St André. The de St Andrés moved into the 500 square-foot space because of the opportunity to work in a creative and fun environment, they said.

“We also like the idea of collaborating and the sharing of knowledge and resources that’s all going to be possible here,” said Molly.

A photography collective was also in the process of signing its lease prior to presstime. The couple has also received interest from a test kitchen.
The Israelows have aims of having between 25 and 30 potential artisanal enterprises.

Once renovations are complete, the mill will include a textile studio, wood shop and a gallery.

“Working with other creative professionals in one space, it makes your craft better. It’s not about competition with one another, but in congruity with each other,” said Asher.

For information about SIC, email the Israelows at info@studioforintegratedcraft.com.

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