Coming attractions – Zumix gives a tour of its new location at the former Engine 40 Firehouse

Zumix, East Boston’s popular music education program, took the opportunity Saturday to hold a community open house and show off its new digs at the corner of Sumner and Orleans streets.

Currently more than three-quarters through construction, the Engine 40 Firehouse is expected to open by the end of this year.

Zumix, the neighborhood program that enriches kids’ lives through music and the arts, passed papers on the firehouse in December 2008 and officially became the owners of the property at that time.

In the summer of 2004, the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) published application guidelines for the firehouse. Zumix worked with the East Boston Community Development Corporation (CDC) to present a very competitive proposal, and in May 2005 was awarded the building from the city.

For Zumix, The Engine Company 40 Firehouse offered a very special opportunity – the potential to transform a long-abandoned building into a beautiful, functional, and inspiring cultural and performance space for Zumix programs, its young participants, and the East Boston community-at-large.

The CDC will work to create exhibition and performance space, a gift shop, recording studios, a computer lab, a dance studio, soundproof practice rooms, administrative offices and community conference rooms within the firehouse.

“On the first floor, the 14-foot-high ceiling and open floor plan unobstructed by columns or bearing walls are perfect for a state-of-the-art performance space. The basement and second level can be renovated for classroom, office, meeting, practice, recording, production, and exhibition space,” said Zumix director-founder, Madeleine Steczynski.

Zumix has raised over $1.9 million of its $4.1 million goal to revamp the firehouse but still needs the community’s support.

Zumix has recently received significant programmatic support from the Hestia Fund, Carl & Ruth Shapiro Family Fund, Bank of America, Schrafft Charitable Trust, Cloud Foundation, and the Filene Family Foundation.

In May 2006, members of the rock band, Pearl Jam, chose Zumix as the Boston nonprofit recipient of their Vitalogy Foundation.

“We received a dollar for every ticket sold for their TD BankNorth Garden show on May 25, and were also invited backstage to meet the band and receive a check for $15,753,” said Steczynski.

Zumix also was chosen as a semi-finalist for the national 2006 Coming Up Taller Awards and was one of five Social Innovators invited to participate in the Social Innovation Forum this year.

“We have made wonderful new connections with people who are helping us with fund development, staffing infrastructure, data management, board development, and marketing…it’s been great,” said Steczynski.

Recently, Zumix received a grant of $200,000 in matching funds from the Kresge Foundation.

With the loss of $150,000 in state funds, Zumix needs Eastie’s help more than ever to get the Engine 40 Company Firehouse project complete.

The Engine 40 Company Firehouse was built in 1923. A brick building, it’s ideally located one block from East Boston’s Maverick Square on Sumner Street and includes approximately 9,000 square feet of unfinished space.

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