Arts group plans to offer classes at former Adrian Training School site

Pi Benio, vice president of the Lenawee Council for Visual Arts, shows one of the buildings the LCVA will lease from the city of Adrian on the former Adrian Training School campus.

The old Adrian Training School campus on the north side of town sits empty — 55 acres of quiet grounds and vacant buildings.

Since the former juvenile detention facility was closed over six years ago, the city has struggled to find a new use for it — an effort made harder because the state requires it be used for a public purpose.

Art supplies and equipment are stacked in one of the buildings the LCVA is leasing from the city.

Erik Gable

Art supplies and equipment are stacked in one of the buildings the LCVA is leasing from the city.

Now, a local arts organization has a new vision for the site: a place where people of all ages can come to learn about art and exercise their creativity.

The Adrian City Commission tonight gave its stamp of approval to leasing three of the buildings on the campus to the Lenawee Council for Visual Arts, which plans to offer classes starting this fall.

Pi Benio, vice president of the LCVA, said the group will start with ceramics, then expand to other media such as woodworking, letterpress, sculpture and glass.

The group hopes to begin classes in October. Registration will be run through the Lenawee Intermediate School District’s adult learning program.

Benio said having an arts campus on the ATS grounds could bring people to Lenawee County.

“Right now, Ann Arbor is dead as a visual arts town,” she said at the city commission meeting. “Nobody can afford it. Picture all those people coming down here and then finding out what it costs to live here.”

LCVA members have already been working on preparing the site, and Benio estimated they’ve put in about 1,000 hours so far.

The city is leasing three buildings — numbers 43, 47 and 48 — to the LCVA. The LCVA will pay $100 per month in rent, plus $125 per month for electricity and $50 per month for water and sewer service. The city will continue to cut the grass on the property, while the LCVA will be responsible for snow removal around its buildings.

The Adrian Training School was closed in January 2009 due to state budget cuts. In May 2011, the state sold it to the city for a nominal price, but one of the conditions of the land being sold at less than market value was that it not be used for anything other than a “public purpose.” A private developer expressed interest in buying eight acres of the property in 2013, but the state denied the sale.