ENTERPRISE — Fishtrap, Wallowa County’s premier writing organization, is preparing for a new chapter in its life as it anticipates moving into its new home on Main Street after 20 years in the Coffin House.
The reason for the move, according to Fishtrap Director Shannon McNerney, is that the nonprofit had outgrown the Coffin House, and it would have needed major renovations to make it work.
“It needed a lot of effort, time and money,” she said, and that was when the decision was made to sell the house. And, the whole process was, she said, “like magic.”
The sale, though, of the Coffin House was conditional on being able to find and lease a new space that fit all the organization’s needs.
Fishtrap had a list of what it wanted: a place that was centrally located, fully accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, with room for an office, a kitchen and at least 1,000 square feet of event space. The house was listed in June and by July they had an offer.
“We’re using the proceeds from the sale of the Coffin House to make sure (Fishtrap’s) programs are healthy and strong for the long run,” she said.
The new location is in the downstairs of the historic Bowlby Building as well as the adjacent former barber shop, giving the organization a large 4,000-square-foot space that will provide room for administrative offices, a kitchen, a conference room area, and a large venue for programs such as Fishtrap’s popular Fireside readings, Winter Fishtrap, The Big Read and writing workshops. The space will also be made available to local organizations for their events, McNerney said.
The building housing the new Fishtrap space is owned by Bill Warnock and Michele Starr, who McNerney said, “have been remarkable to work with.”
Currently some Fishtrap staff are working from home, and some are working from a small leased administrative office space.
McNerney said she is “excited about a clean, safe, beautiful space we can work in” even though, “we loved Coffin House.”
McNerney said she expects people’s “jaws to drop” when they see the fresh paint, open space and high ceilings of Fishtrap’s new home.
The expected move-in date is April 2022 and McNerney promises an open house.
“There will be a celebration for sure,” she said.
“We’re stewards of Fishtrap. It belongs to the community,” she said. “I hope the community feels ownership and is proud of it.”