Director Cassina Farley and her dog Dolly show off the new pottery room at the Patagonia Creative Arts Center. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

The Patagonia Creative Arts Center (PCAC) has recently completed major renovations to the building that houses the Tin Shed Theater, studios and classroom space.

Located at 304 Naugle Ave, PCAC has occupied the building for more than twenty years. The building, which dates back to the early 1940’s, has housed several businesses over the years. “It’s been countless things,” Cassina Farley, director of PCAC, said, including an auto repair shop, lumber yard, realtor’s office, bank and hair salon. In 1998 Molly Phinny purchased the property, running an art gallery and art classes before the founding of the non-profit PCAC.

Recent upgrades include the installation of a second fire exit, the construction of a new ramp, a new dressing room, and a new pottery studio. Farley credits Abel Murrietta for the
design of the ramp leading from the theater to the new fire door. He was able to work within the existing space to avoid losing any of the seating in the theater by moving the pottery studio to the other end of the building and building a ramp to eliminate stairs.

The floor had to be built up three feet and a ceiling removed to accommodate the ramp which opens to the outside and into the main classroom. “The ramp makes it easier to haul
stuff, too,” Farley said.

On the outside of the building, a concrete ramp extends to the sidewalk of Naugle Ave. Before the installation of the new fire door, the building was not code compliant, according to Farley. “It was put in because of public concerns for safety,” she said. Space for a new dressing room opened up with the redesign of the backstage area, and a new, larger pottery studio was constructed near the entrance to the theater. The kilns have been moved outside to the left of the theater entrance off Mendoza Alley.

Two years ago, the entire electrical system in the aging building was upgraded, funded by John Kendall and with donations from the community. A new HVAC system, funded by grants and a donation from Wells Fargo, was also installed.

Future upgrades that Farley would like to see for the theater include new curtains, new flooring, new LED lights and upgrades to the audio and video equipment. “This is the busiest the theater has ever been,” Farley said. “There’s renewed interest in community theater productions and plays are in the works for the fall and winter season.”