Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 30, 2012.

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Torrent Engine 18 is transforming a 19th century Boston firehouse into a flexible theater/art gallery space

NOTE: Each GALA PARTY reward = one guest spot. If you would like to bring a date/ a friend, they need to set up their own Kickstarter user profile and pledge themselves to get the GALA PARTY reward--there is no way for Kickstarter to accommodate more than one pledge per user profile.

If you have other questions about the GALA PARTY, please read the FAQ at the bottom. We've been inundated with the same questions over and over--save time and read it. Don't get left out!

Our names are Katherine Bergeron (aka Katrina Galore) and E. Stephen Frederick (curator of The Empire S.N.A.F.U. Restoration Project). We are the founders of Torrent Engine 18.

We were both born into families of artists and have been breathing art-fumes from day one.

We've been active in the arts and performance all over the east coast since the 1990s. We met each other for the first time in 2003 and have been inseparable ever since.

E. Stephen Frederick & Katherine Bergeron (photo credit: Jason Elon Goodman)
E. Stephen Frederick & Katherine Bergeron (photo credit: Jason Elon Goodman)

The seed of Torrent Engine 18 grew from our experiences while Katherine was living at an underground performance space in Boston named Pan9. Pan9 was a large loft in an old factory building that for many years hosted variety shows, combining art and performance of all genres. Pan9 nurtured a supportive creative community and launched many artists and performers, including the band The Dresden Dolls who played their first public performance there.

Pan9 before the fire
Pan9 before the fire

But on December 29, 2006, faulty electrical wiring ignited a fire that blazed through Pan9. 

The damage caused by the fire, though significant, could have been repaired. Instead the landlord opted to subdivide the large loft/performance space into tiny condos, leaving its former occupants homeless, and leaving Boston with one less venue for incredible stuff to happen in.

Pan9 after the fire
Pan9 after the fire

We were sick of watching one arts community after another be destroyed by the whims of landlords and we were determined not to let the feeling of community we'd experienced at Pan9 die.

In March of 2012, after years of research and planning, we finally purchased a magical building to create a new underground art space in Boston.

The building was originally built as a firehouse in 1869. It was later owned by a preschool, and then by a church. We decided to return to calling it by its original firehouse name: Torrent Engine 18.

Torrent Engine 18 will serve three purposes:

  • to house resident and visiting artists
  • to permanently house the Empire S.N.A.F.U. Restoration Project
  • to be a flexible theater/art/performance space for local, national, and international artists of all stripes (performance, interdisciplinary, film/video etc.)
Torrent Engine 18
Torrent Engine 18

EVERY PENNY of profit from this Kickstarter goes directly into Torrent Engine 18's restoration. YOU CAN PLAY A PART IN UNDERGROUND ART HISTORY!

REWARDS

Most of the rewards are self-explanatory, but we must go in more detail for one--our GALA PARTY, which will take place in a secret location (note: NOT the Torrent Engine 18 firehouse) in Boston on Friday, December 21st, 2012, aka MAYAN DOOMSDAY.

Finally I can draw back the velvet curtain and reveal the secret performers for our GALA PARTY:

Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman

If, by some chance, you have no idea who these people are:

1) my condolences on your unfortunate incarceration

2) try Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Palmer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Gaiman )

On the official Last Day on Earth, you will be sure to enjoy decadent music, mystery readings, and ritual burlesque while sipping fresh-fruit-infused libations by Booze Époque in a grand ballroom. If we are all going down, we are going down IN STYLE.

Want to go? Pledge one of the select $125 (or more) rewards--please read the reward carefully to make sure you are picking the right one (it will contain the phrase "GALA PARTY"). There are very limited guest spots (less than 200). Guest spots for the GALA PARTY will ONLY be available through this Kickstarter--no tickets will be sold at the door.

For the financially blessed, we have a personal theater experience to be performed by a bevy of Boston's most well-known burlesque dancers--a tribute befitting the Apocalypse. Pick one of $200+ rewards that contains the phrase "personal theater experience." Again, please read the reward carefully to make sure you are picking the right one (some of the higher-level rewards do not include a gala spot).

Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer
Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Torrent Engine 18 was originally constructed using the highest quality brick, granite, lumber and iron, but there was almost no maintenance in recent decades. We have begun restoration--our sweat equity and powers of DIY are mighty.

But decades of neglect cannot be reversed overnight. There are many problems with this building (some of which were not detected during our pre-purchase inspections) which will require professional help.

The firehouse's needs and estimated costs are:

- Structural repairs + repointing of masonry for entire building = $60,000
- Structural engineer/architectural plans = $10,000
- New asphalt shingle roof for entire building + repair of roof decking = $25,000
- Prep/repaint exterior woodwork = $5,000
- High efficiency gas furnace + hot water heater = $17,000
- Plumbing = $5,000
- Insulation = $5,000
- Electrical upgrades = $12,000
- Driveway/curb cut = $6,000
- New windows/wrought iron security grating = $15,000
- New deck + point of egress from second floor = $12,000
- Kitchen and bathroom improvements = $5,000
- Flooring improvements = $5,000
- Miscellaneous interior improvements = $5,000
- Regrade yard = $10,000
- Landscaping / plantings = $2,000

Total estimated cost = $199,000

Torrent Engine 18 has a fantastic team working for them, including Cindy Larson of Centre Point Architects, and Rene Mugnier, an award-winning structural engineer, working to restore this historic building to its former glory.

If all goes well, we will have enough repairs completed by late spring of 2013 so that we can begin hosting arts events then. But with a major historical restoration like this, promising a specific date is tempting fate. Our construction timetable will be at the mercy of city inspectors, contractors, and the weather.

Even after the initial phase of emergency repairs is complete, for years to come we'll be continuing to pour time, labor and equity into the building, as we adapt the interior to better suit artistic purposes, and to be as "Green" as possible.

We are committed to this project for the long haul!

Art is our religion. We chose to embark on this insane adventure solely so we can provide YOU with a venue to experience exciting underground culture in Boston. There is no plan B. It's too late for us to change our ways. We will live on ramen and peanut butter for the next 30 years if that's what it takes!

FAQ

  • It's located at 30 Harvard St, Boston (Dorchester), MA 02121, USA.

    NOTE: the GALA PARTY will NOT be at Torrent Engine 18--it will be held at a secret location to be disclosed only to backers who pledge one of the select $125+ rewards (please read the reward carefully to make sure you are picking the right one).

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  • That would be telling.

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  • Realistically, we need a lot more (as a friend who has rehabbed art studios joked: “Where’s the missing zero?”). We chose $10,000 because this is our first Kickstarter and we had no idea what kind of response we'd get. When began this we knew we had a project on hands. We have some financing to deal with it, but while restoring the firehouse, we have found unexpected problems that will need to be dealt with. This Kickstarter is just the first step in laying the groundwork for Boston’s next art underground destination.

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  • If we had a dollar for every person who asked if they could live in the firehouse, we wouldn't need to do this Kickstarter (because we’d be wealthy). We are both accustomed to living in raw, unconventional spaces, so you can take our word for it: the firehouse is not currently livable and won’t be for many months.

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  • Each GALA PARTY reward = one guest spot. If you would like to bring dates/friends, they need to set up a Kickstarter account and pledge themselves to get the GALA PARTY reward.

    We're really sorry we can't fix it --there was no way for us to set up the Kickstarter to accommodate more than one person per pledge.

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  • We have no official age limit, but note that the gala contains mature content--parental guidance is suggested for those under 18. IDs will be checked at the door.

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  • Apologies for the language being confusing--we re-edited the rewards many times and attempted to make the rewards uniform (e.g. the T-shirt you get at the $50 level is the same one you get a the $1000 level, etc.), but that one slipped our notice. Yes, by "token" we mean a chunk of the actual firehouse. We are putting this in the FAQ because we can't change the language of the reward now.

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  • Think of it like a party in your own home, except it's in a big crazy firehouse. No raves or extremely loud music or anything like that--the firehouse is in a residential neighborhood, and they would not be thrilled by a Motörhead cover band. Bring friends you know and trust. If you want a bigger sort of party, we'd be happy to invite over some colorful friends of ours. It's up to you!

    NOTE: we are doing A LOT of work on the building, so you get the choice of doing the party when the space is still in the raw, or after we've prettied up the joint.

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  • We can always use physical labor if you don’t mind getting very, very dirty. Unfortunately, we have no accommodations to offer in exchange for labor. So if you are local/have accommodations and want jump into the fray, email engine18firehouse(dot)gmail(dot)com with "labor" in the subject heading.

    If you are a professional contractor who wants to donate their time and expertise, even better! Write to engine18firehouse(dot)gmail(dot)com with "professional contractor" in the subject heading.

    We are having a Dumpster Dive Demolition Party on Saturday, November 17 from noon to 6pm. Here is the FB invite (it's public, invite yourselves):

    https://www.facebook.com/events/489765951057702/

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    26 backers

    Webpage thank you

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    41 backers

    Empire SNAFU thank you card (+webpage thank you)

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    55 backers

    Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys secret song dowload (+Empire SNAFU card, webpage thank you)

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    Actual chunk of Torrent Engine 18--yes, you will receive a part of the building (+music, Empire SNAFU card, webpage thank you)

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    Empire SNAFU/Torrent Engine 18 T-shirt (+music, Empire SNAFU card, webpage thank you)

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    90 backers Limited (48 left of 138)

    GALA PARTY guest for Friday, December 21, 2012 in secret Boston location (+ Empire SNAFU/Torrent Engine 18 T-shirt, webpage thank you, Empire SNAFU card, music)

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    4 backers Limited (361 left of 365)

    Can't make the GALA PARTY but want a special visit to the firehouse? Come by anytime in 2013, get a tour, a cupcake, & a token of the firehouse (+ Empire SNAFU/Torrent Engine 18 T-shirt, webpage thank you, Empire SNAFU card, music)

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    8 backers All gone!

    Personal theater experience at GALA PARTY Friday, December 21, 2012 in secret Boston location (+ Empire SNAFU/Torrent Engine 18 T-shirt, Empire SNAFU card, webpage thank you)

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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    RARE “Squirrel Machine” book with personalized drawing by the author--You get a signed, hard-cover first edition of “Squirrel Machine” with a unique personalized drawing of Torrent Engine 18 on the inside. This critically-acclaimed graphic novel by Hans Rickheit tells the story of two young inventors coming of age in a New England small town, and contains thinly disguised biographical details referring to Hans Rickheit and E. Stephen Frederick's actual youth in Ashburnham MA. The first printing is sold out, and these copies are generously donated from Hans' personal stash. See more at http://www.fantagraphics.com/browse-shop/203-artists/603-hans-rickheit/fantagraphics/the-squirrel-machine.html?vmcchk=1 (+ Empire SNAFU/Torrent Engine 18 T-shirt, webpage thank you, Empire SNAFU card, music)

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    Afterparty in Torrent Engine 18, Friday, December 21, 2012 (+ GALA PARTY, personal theater experience, Empire SNAFU/Torrent Engine 18 T-shirt, Empire SNAFU card, music compilation, webpage thank you)

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    Crowed "Supreme Patron of Torrent Engine 18" at GALA PARTY by burlesque dancers onstage or off (if you are shy) w/ gold crown of your very own on Friday, December 21, 2012 in secret Boston location (+ afterparty in Torrent Engine 18, gala party, personal theater experience, Empire SNAFU/Torrent Engine 18 T-shirt, Empire SNAFU card, music compilation, webpage thank you)

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    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    Write your own ticket--if you cannot make the GALA PARTY December 21 show date, but want to contribute big, we can make a special party happen for you at Torrent Engine 18 in whatever date you want in 2013. Travel expenses are not included. (+personal theater experience, Empire SNAFU/Torrent Engine 18 T-shirt, Empire SNAFU card, music compilation, webpage thank you)

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