Grandma Platt's House Gets New Life As Gallery

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A little more than 100 years ago, a house was built to simply be home for Mr. and Mrs. Platt. Little did they know what its life would be like and the changes it would encounter.

Since the American Gulch runs through the original acreage and the gulch floods during the heavy monsoon rains, the house was built on higher ground along Main Street.

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Owner Minette Richardson (left) has an art gallery in what was once known as Grandma Platt's house -- Payson's first bed and breakfast.

The house was built with rough 12-inch-by-20-foot planks. The outside was covered with hand-milled clapboards. In the interior, the planks were covered with fabric-backed wallpaper.

The back yard sported an outhouse with two seats. (Families were closer then!) Around 1917, when Grandma Platt built a house for her daughter Lena and her husband, the house was updated with an addition to house an indoor bathroom and electricity was installed. The electricity consisted of two plugs and a few ceiling lights. The ceiling was dropped down to 12 feet and the walls and wallpaper were covered over with beaver board (pre-sheetrock.)

The original well was handdug and shored with rocks and stones to prevent it from collapsing. The well was considered the first town well by many Payson residents. Those that didn't have a well were welcome to share in its use. Until the late 1980s, there was a wooden water storage tower. It was sold by the owner at that time and could not be traced in order to buy it back. The current owners consider it a great loss.

Grandma Platt lost her husband after only one year of marriage. That left her on her own with a living to be made. Since she was such an excellent baker, she sold her wares to the local families. She was encouraged to bring all her goodies to local gatherings.

The Grandma Platt house was also known as the first bed and breakfast in Payson. Grandma had only one room to rent out. For the price of $1 you could get dinner, breakfast and a clean place to lay your weary head.

As the older generations passed, the house was handed down within the family, eventually being rented out to just about anyone who could put a few bucks together. The house began to show the ravages of time and neglect. It was the host to many a party for the young renters who lived there over those years. It was a wild and crazy time for the house.

It was sold around 1985 to someone outside the family, a man with a small construction company. He bought it as an investment, planning on renovating. But his life got out of control and he was forced to sell. In 1990, Minette and Michael Richardson purchased the house.

The house had renters in it and they had to wait until the lease ended to get into it and start their plans for renovation. They put in all-new wiring and plumbing, stripped layers of paint on the doors, countertops and the old claw-foot bathtub. Their original plan was to open an art gallery. Even though there were plenty of artists ready for such an adventure, the town itself wasn't, and Minette and Michael had four children to raise and needed a viable business. So they altered their plans and opened Minette's Place, a hair salon. The house was still heated by an old wood stove and cooled by a swamp cooler they installed.

Over the years, the Richardsons have enclosed the porch on the east side of the house, installed central heating and cooling, replaced some of the old clapboard that was beyond restoring. It has truly been a labor of love.

In 2004, Minette moved back to Michigan to care for her terminally ill parents, leaving her salon in the capable hands of her staff. She returned a year later with a different outlook on life after the death of both her parents and one of her longtime best friends, all within months of each other. Realizing how quickly time goes, she decided it was time to make the dream a reality. A gallery opened up on the street and with their blessing and encouragement she knew the time was right.

Wood artesian Dan Basinski, a longtime acquaintance, contacted her the very next day after her announcement to open a gallery. And before she knew it, artists were knocking on her door, voicing an interest in being involved. With the energy and help of a few artists (Basinski, GAIL, Patricia Allebrand and Storybead) Down the Street Art Gallery LLC was launched. The gallery now boasts 19 members.

Grandma Platt's house has seen birth, death, family love and laughter, many a rodeo and ruckus rodeo dance, wild parties with drinking and drugs, a successful hair salon and finally an art gallery. The house and the spirits that dwell within are happy with the positive energy of the artists that occupy it.

Who knows what the next 100 years are going to bring Grandma Platt's house, but Minette is sure it can only be good.

About Down the Street Art Gallery

When founder and artist Minette Richardson broke a champagne bottle on the business sign at Down the Street Gallery on April 20, she launched a dream.

With its 17 members presenting a variety of media, Down the Street Art Gallery offers a unique art experience to the community and Main Street.

All 17 artists were present for the launch.

Helen Tennent demonstrated with her pottery wheel.

Ink-and-graphite artist Tyler Kilbourne drew caricatures.

The walls of the historic home-turned-gallery are covered with a variety of contemporary, realistic and abstract paintings and drawings by Richardson, Geri Gittings, Ene Locklier, April Bower, Chris Reynolds, Teri Kennedy, Angela Cockle, Pam Fandrich and Kilbourne.

The photography of Pia Wyer and the textile art of Mariska Stoddard also adorn the walls.

There are several cases of contemporary and Southwestern silver jewelry from Patricia Allebrand, Tim Hummer, Kennedy and Bower. There are intricate beaded necklaces and other items from Gwen Storybead.

Realistic sculptures by Gail, Tennent's pottery, Bower's gourds and fountains, Gittings' gourds and Dan Basinski's hand-carved ergonomic cooking utensils round out the three dimensional art in the ‘out of the box' gallery.

The formation of Down the Street was a dream he didn't know he had for artisan and co-founder Basinski.

"A wave just happened by and I jumped on it," he said.

Basinski enjoys telling his friends who have retired from the assembly line in Michigan that he owns an art gallery.

Down the Street Art Gallery is located at 703 W. Main St., Payson, (928) 468-6129.

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