By Cecelia Ellis

For The Republic

An artist plans to bring creative energy and new life into buildings that have been a landmark in North Vernon since 1880.

Jerry Green, of Indianapolis, recently purchased the Greathouse Hardware buildings at two corners of the intersection of Fifth Street and O & M Avenue in downtown North Vernon for $75,000. A former warehouse is one of the buildings.

He plans to renovate the buildings’ 21,000 square feet of space into a center for artists that will include art studios, apartments, classrooms and temporary living quarters for visiting artists. The intent is to attract working artists to North Vernon.

Green said wanted to create a space for artists to work after he saw many artists leave Indianapolis because studio space had become too expensive.

“It’s ironic, the Fountain Square area was developed to create a healthy environment for artists as a means of restoring the whole area. However, as the area became more established, the rent became too expensive for artists, and they moved away from Indy,” said Green, who was born near Boston and attended art school in New York.

He used the internet to search for real estate for sale in central Indiana.

“It seems to me, Indiana is made up of small towns linked together by roads that lead to metropolitan areas. I wanted to find a town that was less expensive than Indianapolis but still located near to the metropolitan areas of Cincinnati, Louisville and Indianapolis,” Green said.

“I saw the buildings listed on the Web and thought they would serve my intended purpose. I took a trip to North Vernon and I liked what I saw in both the buildings and the town. I think other artists will also feel comfortable here,” he added.

Renovation of buildings is a business for Green. He and his wife Loree Everette own and operate Phanomen Design in Indianapolis. Their company’s design purpose is “creating profitable environments.”

The company employs more than 10 people, including architects and artists, and has renovated and designed interiors of businesses throughout the region and neighboring states.

Green has already begun clearing out the buildings’ interiors and said he anticipates actual reconstruction work to begin as early as December.

“The first goal will be to get the studios up and working with the rest to be completed within 2 years,” Green said.

Jerry and Loree will remain living in Indianapolis with their son, Dutch. Loree will keep Phanomen Designs working while Jerry will spend much of his time in North Vernon.

“The people here have been very friendly and welcoming to me,” Green said. “I really would like to thank the community for giving me the opportunity to come to North Vernon. I want this venture to be good for all of us.”