Nevada City’s Spring St. Neighborhood: An Emerging Arts District

LAST YEAR WE WROTE ABOUT an emerging food lovers’ neighborhood on lower Commercial Street in downtown Nevada City, anchored by the farmers market, annual farm-to-table banquet, the Boardwalk and the new Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co.

In the new year, across town, the Spring Street neighborhood is being revitalized. This includes a new building for KVMR Community Radio next to the 150-year-old Nevada Theatre, a new planned coffeehouse FoxHound Espresso, and the new DANK at Osborn/Woods Gallery at Miners Foundry Cultural Center—where history, arts and culture flourish.

The area also is home to Nevada City Winery, the restored Powell House, Sushi in the Raw, Mountain Pastimes for toys, and a new headquarters for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

“Spring Street is a happening place,” says Nancy Nelson, an arts-group volunteer and member of the DANK artists’ collective in Nevada City.

The Miners 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 David Osborn and Charles Woods helped transform the Foundry into a full-fledged cultural center—for performing arts, a Victorian museum and radio station KVMR.

In January, the Miners Foundry and DANK, the collective of 10 local artists, launched a new fine art space, DANK at Osborn/Woods Gallery.

“We are excited to be working with DANK to enliven Spring Street with a rotating selection of curated fine art, workshops, soirees and a no-host wine bar,” says Gretchen Bond, executive director of Miners Foundry. “It is a gathering place where the community can relax while enjoying art, talk about their own work, and share their experiences.”

Spring Street also is home to the award-winning Nevada City Winery, the first bonded winery in Nevada County after prohibition. Founded in 1980 in a small garage on the outskirts of town, the winery moved to its present location in 1982, the historic Miners Foundry Garage, on Spring Street.

Nevada City Winery’s Mark Foster is one of the region’s most talented winemakers. “Nevada City is the perfect place to blend experimentation with a wonderful viticulture environment,” says Foster.

Other businesses along Spring Street include Sushi in the Raw. “The fish is fresh and pristine, and the environment in a converted Victorian boasts quirky charm,” as the San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote.

A new coffeehouse is opening next door to Sushi in the Raw—FoxHound Espresso & Coffee Broaster. It is owned by Steffen Snell, a Nevada County native who has been making coffee since 1999, when he began as a barista in training at Dean & DeLuca in Washington D.C.

Besides opening FoxHound Espresso, Steffen plans to teach coffee brewing classes. His beans also are used in artisan ice cream. Treats of Nevada City’s “Coffee Broaster” ice cream is made with Steffen’s beans.

Further down the block, at Spring and South Pine streets, the historic Powell House has been renovated to its glorious past. Having fallen in to disrepair, it was rescued by the present owners—Brad Croul and Native American artist Judith Lowry-Croul—and is now a renovated house full of modern conveniences.

The Powell House has hosted art exhibits, wine tastings, weddings and music retails and is offered for rent. Judith’s work has been exhibited at the Wheelright Museum in Santa Fe, NM, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., and Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

(Photo: Douglas Hooper)

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