Bastion Studios

Greater Erie Award for Adaptive Reuse

In the category of Adaptive Reuse, Preservation Erie is proud to recognize Bastion Studios for their exceptional restoration of the former Daniel Illig House at 2016 Peach Street.  The home, once a grand example of Second Empire architecture, lay for years in an abandoned, dilapidated state after being converted to a storefront and offices in the 1970s.  The owner/operator of Bastion Studios, Bill Kern, has been working hard to restore the home to its former grandeur.  As a master woodworker, he has taken on many of the restoration projects himself, along with his wife Emily Bond, partner Grant Sauer, and General Contractor Will Yagi of Erie Home Repair Service LLC.  

The home was originally built by Daniel Illig and his wife, Mary Schultz, in 1876.  Illig came to Pennsylvania from Germany in 1857 and owned a tailor and clothing shop on State Street.  It was on the success of his business that he was able to build his impressive home and raise a family of 14 children.  It is one of the few remaining examples of Second Empire architecture in the city, with it’s signature Mansard roof, decorative iron roof cresting, and pedimented windows.  

Upon purchasing the home at 2016 Peach Street, Bill, Grant, Emily and Will set to work peeling back the layers of bad renovations that took place throughout the house’s history.  They took down drop ceilings, pried off panelling and wallpaper, took up carpet, and busted through boarded up windows.  Over the past three years of restoration work, they have been able to highlight what is original and beautiful about the house while, at the same time, turning the massive, 7600 square foot space into a functioning artist studio space and gallery.  The grand, 12 foot high ceilings with ornate plaster medallions that were hidden underneath the composite drop ceiling tiles, provide a beautiful setting for the art that is now on display from local artists who are members of the art studio.  The second floor is broken up into separate spaces that contain recording studio equipment for musicians and podcasters, while the third floor (which was completely destroyed when Bill took ownership) has been restored, with original flooring, windows, banister and spindles, into a bright, open studio: inspiring space for drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.  Bastion Studios provides members with equipment for woodworking, blacksmithing, drawing, painting, stained glass, ceramics, mixed media, and music/voice recording. 

When speaking of adaptive reuse, by turning a dilapidated storefront into a space that can be used and enjoyed by the community, celebrating and supporting local artists, while also highlighting the original vision and historic character of the Illig House: Bastion Studios hits all the marks.  Preservation Erie thanks them for their hard work, their vision, and their dedication to restoring Erie’s past with an eye to its future.

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