Matt Rios of Maker House says the past two years of renovating and running the community space has involved 60 to 80 hours of work a week for him, but the journey has been rewarding. Despite all of that work, the team has announced that on April 11, the venue, restaurant, coffee shop and bar will shut down.
"It's been two really, really hard years of work," Rios says. "But it's been so worth it."
With free events ranging from tango to live local music to LARPing events to craft circles to EDM hula hoop dances to one of the country's largest Super Smash Brothers gaming tournaments, Maker House spent its time opening up to the community and providing a space for anyone to do any kind of event that they wanted.
"Maker House belongs to the community," Rios says. "The community built it."
The process of renovating the historic Bates Mansion that Maker House is in was a long one involving adding new flooring and ceilings, installing bars and much more. One of the rooms has a large mural that had to be completely restored, since the wall had a tree and other greenery growing through it as well as salt deposits seeping through when it rained.
After renovations, the team struggled to make a return on investment on a community space that hosted almost only free events. While getting people to come in and eat during the day was always tricky, Rios says the community would always turn up for those unique events, which likely wouldn't have a home elsewhere. That's why people grew to love the space and looked at it as a second home, particularly in the nerd community, according to Rios.
"Everyone's always felt welcome here," he says. "We've all learned the sheer power of networking from this project. Every time we needed anything, we could just ask the community and we would always find something."
Now, they're asking fans of Maker House to stop in on Tuesday, March 3 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. to record small videos to say what they loved about Maker House and why they'll miss it. If you can't make it in then, you can also record them and post with the hashtag #opensource&out to be included.
The Opensource & Out party will be Maker House's last hurrah on Saturday, April 11 where all of the logos and information on starting and running a community space like Maker House will be released to the public.
"If people want to start something new, we want to help," Rios says. "This type of space can be built by anyone and that's why we're opening it up. If you want something like this in your community, though, you have to support it."
Lisa Roden of Maker House and Art Fire says that from March 11 until April 11, the space will be open daily from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. for a month-long goodbye celebration.
"This space used to be an exclusive gentlemen's club where if a woman came in, she would have to order off of a women's menu," she says. "It's kind of funny that we turned it into something that was so open to everyone."
The mansion itself will be turned into a wedding venue in the future in conjunction with Ron Abbot of the forthcoming Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market.