In the late days of May, 2021, curiosity arose on Peabody's Main Street as passersby began to see the signs of something different in a downtown storefront—warm lighting, comfortable seating, and bold printed letters reading "What is CultureHouse?"
On June 1st, bistro tables and chairs lined the sidewalk out front as community members trickled into the newly-opened CultureHouse Peabody to find out what the buzz was all about. Brightly colored art stretched on canvases of all sizes filled the once-white walls. Board games and children's books lined the shelves that once held shoes from Jovi, the consignment shop that was occupying the space.
During our month on Main Street, we opened our doors to the public—acting as a community living room and a safe space to return to public gatherings after nearly fourteen months of living through a global pandemic. We hosted events and collaborated with community members—sharing our goal of creating a more vibrant downtown. Through conversations and observations, we gained invaluable insights and cultivated an amazing community in Peabody.
Our deepest gratitude goes to our advisory group, donors, community partners, volunteers, and staff who collectively made this project possible. We are grateful to Emily Cooper, whose unwavering optimism and eagerness to make downtown more vibrant has been a critical driving force in bringing the CultureHouse concept to Peabody. We owe a very special thank you to Jennifer Novia, who graciously allowed us to borrow her beautiful space at 86 Main Street. Finally, thank you to the Peabody community and government for welcoming us into your city with open minds and supporting the project in countless ways.
Over the five short weeks we were open to the public, we observed how the space was used, opened minds to new ways of using public space, and gained valuable insight into needs and potential opportunities in Peabody. We hope that our findings, analyzed in this report, will build on current successes in the city and offer Peabody additional ways of becoming a more vibrant and lively city!