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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Julie Wall, owner of Hedgehog Press, stands with a letterpress machine from 1897 that she named Ginger. Wall will move her printing business to a historic building on Broadway that was the site of the former Canton Laundry.

Friday, March 25, 2016 10:03 pm

Print shop owner, ARCH find home for old presses

Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

Not many people name printing presses. But after Julie Wall found one from the 1800s headed for the scrap heap, had it restored and painted red, naming it "Ginger" just seemed like the right thing to do.

"She’s a showstopper," Wall says of her beloved tool of the printer’s trade. Wall is the 30-year-old owner of Hedgehog Press, a Fort Wayne artisan-style print shop. 

Now, Ginger is getting a new home, in a 19th-century landmark building on Broadway that Wall is buying after it was salvaged by ARCH, Fort Wayne’s nonprofit historic architecture preservation group.

Her deal to acquire the former Canton Laundry building at 1014 Broadway should close by the end of next month, Wall said. A move from Hedgehog’s current site at 1136 Columbia Ave. is expected by the end of summer.

"I print on printing presses from the 1800s, and printing on them in a building from that era is going to be wonderful," said Wall, a graduate of IPFW’s bachelor of fine arts program with a specialty in printmaking.

ARCH Executive Director Michael Galbraith said details need to be worked out before the deal is closed. The building has been an ARCH project since 2011, he said.

Vacant for several years, the building had structural problems and its roof was falling in because of water damage, Galbraith said. The back wall crumbled after workers pulled all the poison ivy off it, he said.

ARCH ended up installing a new roof, foundation support and some new windows and repaired tuckpointing. Five huge bins of debris were carted out.

Although plumbing, heating and air conditioning, electrical work and interior finishing remains, that was by design, Galbraith said.

"We wanted to present a blank canvas, or a white box, so to speak, for a new owner to work with," he said.

Wall said she plans to house Ginger and two other antique presses in the building. A one-person business, Hedgehog Press isn’t a publisher, she said, but rather a custom printer of posters, invitations, note cards, coasters and business-image materials, some of which Wall designs.

Drawn to the Broadway site because of new businesses along the corridor just south of downtown, Wall said she grew up in a downtown business. Her mother runs LaHartz Inc., a trophy and awards shop at 430 E. Washington Blvd.

The new larger space will mean Wall will have more room to sell her original artwork, as well as possibly collaborate with other artists on shows or events.

"I’ve been speaking to a lot of the people (starting businesses on Broadway) about it, and it feels young and exciting and vibrant to me," she said. "There are so many people in this community who are artistic who are looking for an outlet."

ARCH, which also owns the still-vacant storefront next door at 1016 Broadway, has pointed her at possible ­sources for funding to continue work on the building.

"I’m very excited about it," she said of the move of her3-year-old businesses and its presses.

"They’re going to look neat in the building. It’s like they’re going home. I think they’ll feel at home there."

rsalter@jg.net