Celebrating TwispWorks History
Local film-maker and award-winning musician Terry Hunt created this 6-minute documentary about the history of the Twisp Ranger Station and its transformation into TwispWorks, including an original score.
In 1929, the US Forest Service established the Twisp Ranger Station at 502 South Glover St comprising 17 buildings on a 6.4 acre campus.
For the next 80 years, the Twisp Ranger Station sat in the heart of Twisp and was a major employer of the local community.
In 1994 the Forest Service consolidated operations to Winthrop and the Twisp Ranger Station was eventually vacated.
In 2008, the property went up for auction and the local community recognized an opportunity to revitalize the campus and create a place for creative enterprise bringing arts, culture and business together to increase the economic vitality of the Methow Valley. The Town of Twisp charted the Twisp Public Development Authority to take possession of the site. A generous seed funder stepped forward with a one million dollar loan to help the community buy the campus.
For the next year, community volunteers worked to create a 10-year master plan to revitalize the neglected site and create a place where people and ideas came together and arts and culture thrive. TwispWorks was born!
The first few years were focused on getting buildings and outdoors spaces into usable condition.
In 2011, the Methow Valley Interpretive Center became the first partner to move to TwispWorks and the South Warehouse was rehabilitated, bringing a number of working artist studios to campus. New landscape and lawns were planted.
In 2012, a native plant garden was created that today is the largest native plant garden in Central and Eastern Washington. The Methow Made program was created to help local producers sell and market their goods. The “Shop” was rehabilitated creating space for a high school Welding Tech program. This program evolved into a Careers in Construction Academy providing vocational training in a variety the construction-related trades for teens.
In 2013, the South Bay was renovated bringing more artists and craftspeople to campus. The Grey Shed was updated and become home to eqpd, a design and manufacturing studio. The Gateway building became TwispWorks headquarters and additional office space was created welcoming professional services and small businesses to campus.
In 2014, the Twisp PDA transferred the property to the TwispWorks Foundation.
In 2015, TwispWorks unveiled its most significant revitalization project to date – the opening of the Bernard Hosey Founders Building, named in honor of local artist and TwispWorks supporter, Bernard Hosey. Bernard’s metal sculptures can still be seen on campus. More artists, the radio station, KTRT, and the Education Station hosting classes, events and presentations moved in. TwispWorks built an outdoor kiosk welcoming people to the TwispWorks campus. The kiosk serves as the first phase and entry point of the forthcoming TwispWorks Community Plaza.
In 2016, the Grey Shed was expanded to create an additional 1,000 square feet of space to support the expansion of the manufacturing capabilities of eqpd. TwispWorks also began work on the TwispWorks Community Plaza, a place for the local community to celebrate the natural environment and history of the Methow Valley. The 14,000 square foot Plaza includes a splash pad for kids, a bike repair station, drought tolerant landscaping, pathways and spaces for people to connect to gather for arts and cultural programs, special events and celebrations. The campus also welcomed the Methow Valley School District’s Independent Learning Center (ILC) to campus. The ILC is a program for high school students who have elected to approach learning through their individual interests and passions using a combination of projects, internships, and core coursework. The course work provides an individualized, self-paced program that offers a standard Washington State diploma.
In 2017, TwispWorks launched the Methow Investment Network connecting investors who want to see their money work in a community they love with local entrepreneurs needing capital to start or grow their business. TwispWorks partnered with Room One and Little Star Montessori to open the Little Star South Collaborative in the Tree Cooler building on campus, providing support for families at all income levels with affordable, quality early childhood education daycare and helping parents enter or remain in the workforce. Work on the Plaza@TwispWorks was completed.
In 2018, construction began on the Old Schoolhouse Brewery Production Facility on the site of the old northwest vehicle bay. The campus parking lot got a much need upgrade with new paving and pathways. We installed new wayfinding and historical signage throughout campus helping people get where they need to know and sharing details of our rich history as a UF Forest Service Ranger Station. TwispWorks continued to focus on important community advocacy issues. We led the successful effort to keep the North Cascade Smokejumper Base and its living wage jobs in Winthrop when it was at risk to be relocated to other areas of the state. TwispWorks created the Methow Valley Broadband Action Team (BAT) to address the lack of reliable broadband in the Methow Valley. The BAT began working with infrastructure providers including Okanogan County Electric Cooperative (OCEC), the Okanogan Public Utility District (PUD), internet service providers as well as area businesses, local government and concerned citizens to understand the impacts and address the opportunities that improved broadband could bring to the community.
In June 2019 coinciding with our 10th anniversary, TwispWorks’ campus achieved full occupancy and became self-sustaining through rental and earned income. This achievement meant the anonymous donors who purchased the property handed over the deed to the campus to TwispWorks, ensuring we will continue to serve the needs to the community for years to come. We secured a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Community Economic Revitalization Board to fund a broadband feasibility study advancing our efforts to bring broadband to under-served areas of the Methow Valley.
And we still have more to do …
2019 will see the completion of the new OSB Brewing Facility, the build out of the final three bays of the West Shed and a new TwispWorks maintenance shop…stay tuned!