The entrance to Harmer’s Town Art Center as seen from Market Street in Havre de Grace, featuring indoor/outdoor classroom/artist workshop space. (Manns Woodward Studios)
The entrance to Harmer’s Town Art Center as seen from Market Street in Havre de Grace, featuring indoor/outdoor classroom/artist workshop space. (Manns Woodward Studios)

Federal Spending Bill Allocates Millions of Dollars for Project in Havre de Grace

Harmer’s Town Art Center, the first-of-its-kind regional art facility, creativity incubator, and economic driver planned for historic downtown Havre de Grace, is a step closer to realization after U.S. Congress approved a federal appropriations package allocating millions of dollars for its development and construction.

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) requested and secured Fiscal Year 2024 Congressionally Directed Spending funding for the Harmer’s Town Art Center, Inc. at the level of $3,351,000. The project was included in the FY24 Minibus Spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden.

“The arts reflect who we are, and they have the power to inspire, educate, and unite the entire community. That is why I fought to support the development of the Harmer’s Town Art Center. This investment represents a commitment to expanding Havre de Grace’s cultural and economic opportunities through the power of the arts,” said Senator Van Hollen.

The federal funding will be used for the rehabilitation of a vacant 34,000 square-foot commercial building into the future Harmer’s Town Art Center, which will be a regional destination, bringing together the arts, history, and community of Havre de Grace in a centralized location within the heart of the city’s vibrant arts and entertainment district. The project will provide employment and opportunity for a wide range of artists and craftspersons – all in a highly visible location that creates a keystone connection between the city’s downtown business corridor and its waterfront amenities.

An interior view of one section of Harmer’s Town Art Center, depicting gallery space and a flex workshop/classroom space. (Manns Woodward Studios)

“The arts breathe life into a community, and Harmer’s Town Center will be the life blood of Havre de Grace. The revitalized arts facility will blend history, creativity and culture and bring new opportunity for the region’s burgeoning arts and artists,” said Senator Cardin. “Federal earmarks can be transformative, and it’s exciting to see how this funding will support locally driven projects that help transform Havre de Grace’s historic downtown into a hub for arts and culture.”

Architectural planning and engineering are already well underway. Within the visionary complex, artists will work in studio space visible and accessible to the public, offering them the opportunity to engage with guests, hold lessons, and sell their work directly to visitors. Makerspace workshops will offer artists and hobbyists alike access to specialized equipment for woodworking, ceramics, and other fabrication crafts. Harmer’s Town Art Center will also house galleries to showcase art exhibits, a museum of historic Havre de Grace artifacts, and a shop for both visitors and artists – all within eyeshot of historic downtown Havre de Grace and the top of Chesapeake Bay waterfront.

The project is known as Harmer’s Town Art Center as an homage to the name given in the 1600s to the land that would one day become the City of Havre de Grace. It consists of a formerly forgotten alley and underused portions of an old commercial property. The once-blighted alley – called Graw Alley in recognition of the horse racing track that operated in the city from before World War I until the early 1950’s – opened last year as an art park with landscaped pathways, artistic sculptures, outdoor seating, and a series of vivid murals leading visitors on a visual tour through Havre de Grace history.

For more information about this project or to contribute to the effort, contact Harmer’s Town Art Center at [email protected] or visit our website at http://www.harmerstown.org.

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