Born of Ashes and Dust


It was July 2011. I had just gotten married and was living in a nice but small apartment. Dreaming of buying a home, I was searching around online when I discovered a funny little property in the Village of Atlas, MI. An antiques repairman had lived and worked there 10 years earlier, but left as is by the current owner. Along with the gallery building was a 5000 sqft workshop stocked full of vintage tools. I immediately thought of my father, a woodworker, and sent a link to his email, which was opened by his voice activated filter (my mother).

That was noon. By 5PM an offer for the property was being drafted. Not long after it was ours.

My father was going to use the lower portion of the gallery building as his furniture gallery, just as it had been years earlier. He offered a portion of the 2nd floor as my photography studio. It was the ultimate father/daughter project.

Work began slowly to update the buildings. My father was busy completing paying job, ones that would hopefully pay for the updates, while I worked full time as a Graphic Designer. But in just a few months progress slowed further and my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer that had spread throughout his body.

In the months following his diagnosis, a new surge of interest in the property was born. My mother took over the project to show my father that his legacy would live on. Large amounts of work began and the gallery building was transformed beyond the small dreams of my father and I.

Although he got to see the progress started, my father never did get to see the completed gallery building. He passed away in September, 2012, about one year after the property was purchased.

Studio Exterior, before
Portrait Room, before
Portrait Room, before


We pushed forward with a full renovation of the building. From updating the exterior siding to look more Victorian, which was the original intention, to adding bathrooms and a small but fully functioning kitchen. We use the building in honor of my father. Plans continue to expand the use of the studio/gallery and workshop to allow local artists a place they can utilize as well. 

Portrait Room, after
Exterior, after

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *