Shire City Sanctuary is an amazing Makerspace in the heart of The Berkshire’s. In the former Roman Catholic Notre Dame Church, right in the middle of Pittsfield, MA, Shire City Sanctuary houses a screen printing shop, sewing lab, commercial kitchen, technology lab, studios, meeting space, event space, and cyber office. We are like a gym for makers. Day Passes and Monthly Memberships are available for 24/7 access to the space and equipment. Learn all about the different membership options on our Membership page.
Crispina ffrench and Chris Swindlehurst bought this magnificent church and the rectory next door from the diocese of Springfield, MA in 2006. After several years retrofitting and environmentally kind renovations, The Rectory has become 4 beautiful ‘green’ apartments with the final 2 scheduled for completion by the end of 2015. The Church now houses Shire City Sanctuary.
Shire City Sanctuary is open everyday by appointment 413-236-9600.
Crispina’s functional textile art has been sold by Fiorucci, Anthropologie, Sundance and ABC Carpet and Home. Publications including The New York Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, Country Living, Martha Stuart Living, Elle Décor and The New Yorker have featured her work. Crispina ran a recycling manufacturing company employing 40 people from 1989 until 2008. In 2009 her teaching book, The Sweater Chop Shop was published by Storey Publishing. Crispina currently lives and works in the Berkshire Hills of westernMassachusetts where she divides her time between running The Dolphin Studio – a second generation screen printing business, developing Shire City Sanctuary and making and teaching her recycled textile art.
Chris Swindlehurst was born in Middletown CT in 1963. He moved frequently as a child living in CT, Germany, Vermont and settling in Becket Massachusetts.
Chris began his business career at age 12 when his family purchased a package and variety store, working every Sunday. Before graduating high school Chris secured an apprenticeship with a local plumbing contractor starting work one week after graduation. After working for four years and achieving his journeyman’s plumbing license Chris started CESCO Plumbing and Heating in 1986. Several years later Chris got his masters plumbers license and began expanding the company. Joined by his brother Bill in 1989 the company grew to 10 employees and performed all aspects of plumbing and heating installation and service. After Bill left to pursue a teaching career Chris expanded further by purchasing the Brown Oil Company in early 2001 adding fuel delivery and service and eventually growing the company to 35 employees at its height in 2007. Chris married and had children starting in 2004 and quickly realized that the demands of family life were more important than business and eventually sold the company in 2013. Focusing on his family and a love for the outdoors and specifically tree work offering tree pruning and removal starting in 2011 as a sideline. Life continues apace with exciting developments at the family venture Shire City Sanctuary housed in the former Notre Dame church in Pittsfield.
(Event Manager) Joe has spent the past 27 years producing theatrical shows in New York, both on and off Broadway, as well as productions regionally and internationally. Originally a second home owner Joe, his wife and producing partner Karen Cellini, and their children decided to leave New York in 2006 and make the Berkshires their home.
New York theater credits begin with the long running interactive comedy Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding in 1988. Often referred to as “The Granddaddy of Interactive Theater” Tony n’ Tina was the first commercial production to successfully incorporate fully immersive audience interaction by creating characters and an environment in which the audience was encouraged to participate. The show has since gone on to multi-year productions in several US cities and continues to play to this day. Other productions include the Tony nominated Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar and well and the most recent Broadway production of Doctor Zhivago. The latest production set to go on tour is a post-apocalyptic interactive experience featuring the coming together of a zombie groom and a human bride, called Zombie Wedding. There have been close to a dozen other shows, but not enough room to mention.
In 1999 Joe co-founded, and served as the first CEO of the online magazine, marketing and ticketing company TheaterMania.com and Ovationtix. With over one million registered members TheaterMania.com/Ovationtix has since become a formidable force in the development of new audiences on Broadway and regionally in the US, and now in London through its most recent acquisition of London’s largest theater portal What’s on Stage.
Joe is grateful to be living in the Berkshires full time, serving on the advisory committee for the Berkshire Film Festival amongst others. Although still producing he has been focusing most of his efforts on how best to serve the local community and to do his share to help make the Berkshires an even more vibrant place to live and work. For more info: joecorcoran.info
Karen Cellini (Community Outreach & Events) is a multidisciplinary live performance artist, producer, writer and activist whose work has been seen at Amnesty International Human Rights Arts Festival (Silver Springs, MD), La Mama (New York, NY), Dixon Place (New York), Alice’s Fourth Floor (New York), Eugene O’Neill Theatre (Waterford, CT), Pasadena Playhouse (Pasadena, CA), American Dance Institute (Rockville, MD), The New Ohio Theatre (New York, NY), Berkshire Museum Pittsfield, MA), Four Seasons Hotel (Tokyo, Japan), California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA), Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, NY), and internationally in a starring role in Aaron Spelling’s television drama Dynasty.
She recently co-produced Doctor Zhivago, Broadway Theatre (New York, NY), co–produced the iconic Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding and it’s 25-year Anniversary revival (New York, NY), Café A Go-Go (New York, NY), The Life and Times of WEB Dubois starring Chuck Cooper, Berkshire Theatre Festival (Stockbridge, MA), and the feature film Seriously Twisted where she also played a lead role.
As a community activist, Ms. Cellini’s personal commitment to serving at-risk youth is seen in the programs she has helped develop including The Good Mother Project (Philadelphia, PA), Mary J. Blige Foundation (Yonkers, NY), Graham School (Mount Vernon, NY), Juvenile Resource Center (Pittsfield, MA), and as a teaching artist for IS183 Art School of the Berkshires.
She was a resident artist at the Storefront Artists Project (Pittsfield, MA), collaborated with artist/activist Gabrielle Senza’s Walk Unafraid (Pittsfield, MA) and has been invited to speak at Saint Paul’s School (Newry, Ireland), and the anti-Violence Against Women conference, Amnesty International Human Rights Arts Festival (Silver Springs, MD).
She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College, was an MFA candidate studying Writing for Performance under Carl Hancock Rux, California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA), and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Theatre from Temple University. As a singer she worked with Margaret Whiting, Julie Wilson, Craig Carnelia, and Betty Buckley. She is Vice President of Corcoran Productions since 1992.
Ms. Cellini is currently writing a book The Good Mother: making the invisible, visible based on the writings of an incarcerated heroin addict, the images his mother captured while trying to understand his active addiction. For more information visit karencellini.com
Lauren Cover is a sewer, knitter, spinner, mender, hiker, writer, mother, partner, listener, organizer, and baker. You can find Lauren in the sewing studio and in the shared commercial kitchen at Shire City Sanctuary. She lives in Stockbridge with her partner Dan Barenski, their daughter Hazel Katherine, and two kitties. One day she hopes to turn her black thumb green surrounded by chickens, kittens, and children all the while perfecting her signature piecrust.
Residing in the beautiful Berkshires of Western Mass, Kristen Parker is a multidisciplinary artist working in mediums such as: photography, apparel design, printmaking, collage and papermaking. She comes to Shire City Sanctuary with a degree in arts management and Visual Arts from Mass College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. A busy working woman she spends her days with managing the print shop at Shire City Sanctuary, printing the famous Dolphin Studio Calendar, and creating one of a kind apparel and screen prints for her own company Contour Lines and Shaded Spaces. Along with all that she heads up the Social Media outlet for the Sanctuary and works closely with the team on programming the maker space and getting the word out.