At first the Sparrow House was just going to be studio space and extra storage. But business partners Judy Walsberg and Mary Pierce decided the house had a "benevolent personality" and would be a good retreat location for women and other artists looking to relax.
The pair has been operating the Glos House in St. Charles since 2010 when Pierce started La Maison Marche to share space with Walsberg's Tapestries of Nature.
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Since Walsberg bought the Sparrow House last July in an auction, the entrepreneurs decided to move the boutique to Elgin as well, condensing their work operations into the city in which they both live.
"We are excited about getting in on the ground floor of the artistic movement happening in downtown Elgin," Pierce said.
The new boutique, Soulful Sparrow, will open Saturday, June 30, at 10 Douglas Ave., just a few blocks from the new Artspace development, which is already accepting applications for artists looking to rent apartments with studio space inside.
Soulful Sparrow will have vintage items for home décor and gifts for sale, along with handmade and altered jewelry and embellished clothing. FLAX, Perch and Blu•Pepper clothing lines will also be available.
The Sparrow House, purchased in Elgin's NENA neighborhood during a foreclosure auction, has undergone extensive repairs in the last year with work on the exterior continuing this summer.
With the help of a local contractor, Pierce and Walsberg had the living room ceiling replaced because of water damage, the bathroom gutted and new plumbing put in, the roof reshingled, carpeting removed, drywall replaced and every room repainted.
And at every step along the way, the team kept an eye toward recycling and re-purposing products with a flair of artistry.
"It allowed us to create a look that was stylish, unique and individual," Pierce said. "We got satisfaction out of using our creative juices."
Both women are artists and plan to use the studio space in Sparrow House for their own work.
Pierce got a bachelor's in fine art degree with courses in painting, calligraphy, textiles and graphic art. Walsberg has had more informal training, but works mostly in fiber and textile design.
"We both have a passion for what we do," Pierce said. "We are always doing and thinking about creative things and the shop provides an outlet."
Soulful Sparrow will be open in the downtown boutique from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sundays by chance. Pierce said the Sparrow House will be a place for people who need to get away but not advertised as a retreat center. She and Walsberg plan to use the studio space for their own art.
Visit soulfulsparrowshop.blogspot.ca for more information on the boutique or the Sparrow House.