Miners Foundry in Nevada City: Where History, Arts & Culture Flourish

NEVADA COUNTY IS HOME to some of our state’s most famous achievements: the Bridgeport covered bridge in Penn Valley, the Empire Mine in Grass Valley and the first transcontinental railroad line in Truckee.

But few have played a more pivotal role—for industry or regional arts and culture—than the Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City.

Located in the heart of the historic downtown, the Foundry was the first manufacturing site of the Pelton wheel in 1879, the precursor to modern hydro-electric power.

In the ’70s, San Francisco artists Charles Woods and David Osborn transformed the Foundry into a full-fledged cultural center—for performing arts, a Victorian museum and radio station KVMR.

Since then, the Foundry has continued this legacy and commitment to arts and culture in Nevada County. It presents a vast array of events, including rock concerts, theatrical productions, dance performances, nonprofit community fundraisers, private parties, weddings and more. It was the site of the first Wild & Scenic Film Festival in 2002.

“There’s a richness here that people will experience regardless of what type of events they’re here for,” says Gretchen Bond, the Foundry’s innovative and knowledgeable executive director.

The building retains the character of the Gold Rush days with its rough-hewn beams, iron doors and antique fixtures and furnishings. It continues to undergo improvements. The latest example: a new wooden floor in the Osborn-Woods Hall, one of the two great halls.

This fall the Foundry will host creative fundraisers for the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation and Child Advocates of Nevada County, among others.

It also will host three popular events of its own—the annual Fright Night on Halloween night, the Artisans Festival on November 29-December 1 and the Nevada City Winter Craft Fair on December 15.

The Artisans Festival held on Thanksgiving weekend is one of the foothills’ premier art events, showcasing some of the finest handcrafts and art from across the state and beyond.

This holiday family tradition features more than 35 artisans displaying their wares. The artists are on hand to explain how and why their art was created, offering an engaging experience.

Expect to find one-of-a-kind pieces including sculpture, fine woodworking, jewelry, pottery, photography, paint- ings, hand blown glass, porcelain, print- making, silk collages and more.

In addition, the Foundry will hold a fundraising campaign this fall for ongoing upkeep and needed upgrades to the historic building. The Foundry’s new wooden floor was completed, thanks largely to private donations.

For more information, visit MinersFoundry.org.

(photo: Akim Aginsky)

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