Printing building becomes event venue

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

A dilapidated building has become a new downtown event facility with brick and concrete interior walls, rusty antiques for decoration and open-air rooms.

Portales MainStreet has renovated the former Bishop Printing building on Main Street to become the Stargazer, named for the two roofless rooms at the front of the building.

MainStreet President Danny “Woody” Woodward said he hopes to lease the facility for community functions.

“But we also want to show how a building’s a lot more viable as a business or a place to go hang out, as opposed to boarded up or storage,” he said.

Woodward said he hopes the Stargazer and the Yam Theater, when renovations are completed there in six months to a year, work together with other venues to give people a choice of activities downtown.

The area is viable during business hours, he said, but shuts down after 5 p.m.

“Nighttime activity goes along with our vision,” Woodward said.

Portales MainStreet manager Nicole Wilkening said she hopes to have someone buy the Stargazer and develop it into a suitable business. Woodward said they are trying to promote the building as a site for a microbrewery, but it’s open to anything appropriate.

Three years ago, the MainStreet program bought the building with the idea of selling it, Woodward said. The owner at the time was using it for storage.

About three months ago, the board members removed the boards over the windows, had new glass installed and cleaned out the inside. The Portales High School baseball team and board members removed truckloads of old sheetrock and other trash.

Woodward said the front half of the roof had deteriorated, so they cleaned out the debris and stabilized other areas of the building. Board member Greg Erf suggested the name.

The Stargazer’s decorations include old signs, a few rusted antiques and some metal art on the walls.

Also, a board member thought the old control box from the building’s print shop days looked like it belonged to an electric chair, so a wooden “electric chair” was placed beside the box.

MainStreet is working to get restrooms that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act to allow the Stargazer to house more events.

“It’s mainly for MainStreet and city functions right now,” Woodward said.

The facility housed the Spring Wine Fest, provided backdrops for senior photos and was a place to eat barbecue during the Centennial Street Fair. Woodward said he received a lot of feedback about the Stargazer after the street fair.

“People really enjoyed it,” he said.