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By Rebecca Stockert
Fort Wayne Reader
Walk into The Hedge at 1016 Broadway and meet Helga, Ginger, Eva, and Mulvay’s Mangler. Helga is the youngest, born in 1960. The four of them are not a knitting circle of elderly women, but printmaking presses belonging to artist Julie Wall, who lives and works in the location with Daniel Dienelt and two dogs, Lola and Smike. In the space, the artists work and live, creating their own personal art, as well as giving classes, creating custom wedding and event invitations, and making a myriad of products sold across the nation at other retailers.
Wall purchased the building at 1016 Broadway in 2016 and moved her business, Hedgehog Press, there this year, rechristening it The Hedge. The phrase “artists at work,” describes the live/work environment Wall has created. The front window opens up to a small retail space, this leads into a large printmaking studio (home of Helga, Ginger, Eva, and Mulvay’s Mangler), and up the stairs in the back, the luckiest visitors might get to see Wall’s own home, a loft-type living space on the second floor.
The printmaking presses define the core of the business: a print shop, which is how Wall started on this journey. Each of the presses (and a very impressive paper cutter that can cut a phonebook like butter) in the menagerie has a story. Helga, the newest addition to the group, was bought at auction not too far from the old Hedgehog Press. Wall heard that a Heidelberg Windmill press was going up for auction and she wanted to see it. She had no intention of buying, but that didn’t stop her from walking away with it. Walking away with the press is an overstatement: she weighs 4600 lbs. Several men had to get a running start with Helga just to get her up the ramp and into the Broadway location.
Mulvay’s Mangler has an interesting history as well, because it didn’t technically start its life as an etching press. The piece was fabricated by New Zealand artist Johnny Mulvay, who spends his days painting murals and fabricating printmaking presses out of random objects. Mulvay’s Mangler was originally a mangler, or an old clothing wringer, before Mulvay mutated it into a printmaking press to be taken up by Wall.
The new business is in a location with some old ties to the community. For nearly two generations, the building was home to Canton Laundry. Wall has executives come into the shop and tell her, nostalgically, how the Canton launderers would triple starch their shirts. She has also heard stories from long-time or retired nurses from Saint Joseph Hospital, who would have their little white caps laundered there.
Wall purchased the brick building from Arch, Architecture & Community Heritage, the local historic preservation society. Before Arch and Wall, the building (and adjacent buildings on the street) was owned by the Saint John Evangelical Lutheran Church. The structure of the buildings had come under such disrepair that the church was going to tear them down and create extra parking. At this point, Arch stepped in, purchased the buildings, and began remediation.
The building directly to the north of The Hedge (now occupied by the new business Sassie Cakes, a little bakery) was owned by a dry cleaning business for many years who would dump cleaning chemical directly onto the ground, out the back door. When Arch took possession of the buildings, the chemical contamination had to be cleaned up. As well, the back of the buildings were completely covered in ivy. When the ivy was torn off, much of the brick wall came down with it. Arch stabilized the structures, decontaminated the soil, and reconstructed the backs of the buildings with new brick.
When Wall purchased the building, it was an empty shell. She had to start from scratch; the building lacked even the most basic electricity and plumbing. However, this was not her first go at starting from the ground up. When Wall purchased her first building on Columbia for Hedgehog Press, it had to be completely gutted and re-done (by herself, her mom, and her dad). She said of the remodel: “I learned how to drywall. It was really good practice for this place!”
Like the Canton Laundry building, the original Hedgehog Press location has a long and colorful history. First, the story goes it was originally a gas station in the 1940s. Before the print studio, it belonged to Navistar’s engineering union. Most notoriously, it was a detective agency for many years. When Wall purchased the building, there was a safe built into the concrete in the center of the floor that had to be removed with a jackhammer. Wall mused: “I was sure we were going to find treasure or dirt on somebody [in the safe], but there was only some old newspaper clippings.”
The Hedge will be part of a couple upcoming events: Holly Trolley Shopping event sponsored by the Downtown Improvement District on Shop Small Saturday, November 27, 11 am - 5pm; and Art on Broadway, a block-party type event on Saturday, December 2, featuring open art studios, food trucks, and music. More information will be announced.
The Hedge’s hours are Thursday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m., and by appointment. Find out more about the spot on their website at thehedgefw.com.
1016 Broadway, Fort Wayne, IN 46802