By Sterling McGinn
After a long winter of extensive renovations to the former Newberry State Bank building, Illumin8 Youth and The Moosetache is opening its doors for the first time at 6:30 p.m. tonight, June 7.
The Moosetache will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Gould City residents Jon and Lori Conroy, parents of Oliver, Emerson, and Ameia, are the founders of Illumin8 Youth and The Moosetache, which is the home for their new youth program and a workspace venue.
Illumin8 Youth will hold a youth program every Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. The program is open to youth from grades 6-12 from Newberry and the surrounding areas.
“We are going to have games, music, entertainment and we are going to have leadership and purpose-driven talks,” said Jon Conroy.
At tonight’s meeting, the Conroys have planned raffle drawings, giveaways, and free t-shirts for the first 25 people.
At the date of the program kickoff, Illumin8 is only using the north side of the first floor, though major renovations have been taking place throughout the building.
“This is kind of phase one of getting it open, and we will go from there,” Jon said.
That portion has been named The Moosetache, keeping with the theme of “The Moose Capital.”
With Illumin8, Jon Conroy is inspired to bring light to the young adults, and he hopes that they will be a light in the community.
While youth groups are not in session, the area will be available as a daytime workspace venue for youth or anyone who is interested in using the room for internet or to lounge and play a board game.
The space will also be available to rent for small events of up to 45 people.
“We just want to really focus on the youth and have a cool spot for them to be able to come and hang out, play some games and just be themselves,” Jon Conroy said.
“In the long-term, I think we will plan some different outings where we can actually leave the facility and go rafting or kayaking,” Lori Conroy said. “I think it will evolve over time.”
Jon and Lori envisioned a center for additional area youth support when they first saw the building while driving down Newberry Avenue. There had been a for sale sign in the window.
Their dream came true last year, when they purchased the building from Newberry resident Sharon Brown, who had operated her Old Bank Collection of Shops for years. The building had previously been owned by the Beaulieu family.
In keeping with the feel of the 130-year-old structure, the Conroys have kept the original hardwood floors, painted the period tin ceiling, and exposed the original interior brick work. New light fixtures, furniture, and added electronics give the building a modern feel.
One of the first projects tackled by the Conroys after acquiring the historic bank and furniture store was the tuck-point work to the exterior bricks and the securing of apparent brick decay. A portion of the storefront facade has just been painted and the old transom windows have been exposed.
Jon Conroy said that he plans to renovate the second story as an additional venue for youth programs or events, which would allow for a larger capacity.
Plans for the area that once housed the bank are uncertain at this time, but that space will be repurposed in the future.
For more information on the Moosetache lounge or Illumin8, contact the Conroys at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 906-287-9731.
There are also two separate Facebook pages: Illumin8 and Moosetache, where information and updates will be posted.