LITTLE VILLAGE — A Pilsen museum plans to convert a Little Village fire station into a space for its youth arts program.
The National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., is buying the firehouse at 2358 S. Whipple St. from the city for $1, according to city records. The sale was passed by the full City Council last month.
The firehouse will become a community and program space for the museum’s youth arts program, Yollocalli Arts Reach, said Vanessa Sanchez, director of education at the museum and Yollocalli. The the two-story, 8,600-square-foot building has been vacant since 2011, when a new fire station was built nearby, according to the city.
Yollocalli was founded in 1997, offering free programs and opportunities for youth ages 13-25 for things like street art, radio, photography and gardening, Sanchez said. Over the years, Yollocalli has grown, so museum leaders began looking for a space to expand.
Programs are held in the Little Village Boys and Girls Club, but sometimes the classes don’t have enough space, Sanchez said.
“It was really a mix of a need and a desire to provide more opportunities for young people, give them a safe space to be surrounded by caring adults who want to provide services and mentorship, but also just a safe space for them to meet new young people and hang out or just be themselves,” Sanchez said.
With the renovation of the firehouse, Yollicalli will still hold classes out of the Boys and Girls Club to maximize how many people can sign up, Sanchez said.
The fire station will have a large community space on the first floor, where people from the neighborhood could have meetings, events or workshops, Sanchez said.
The second floor will be reserved for studios designed for flexible arts programs and a hangout space for kids, Sanchez said.
Construction could start in early 2024 and wrap by the end of the year, Sanchez said.
The Executive Latino Council is hosting a fundraiser 6-10 p.m. Nov. 30 at the National Museum of Mexican Art for the firehouse renovations.
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