We Bought a Library

When we started Open Mind Interiors back in 2012, we knew we had to bring something new and different to the Thunder Bay market. In order to show potential clients how to create innovative workspace, we had to build a spectacular showroom to set the bar high.

Our first showroom was an adaptive re-use of an existing warehouse space on Montreal Street. I remember telling friends where our new office was going to be located and they said “are you crazy?”. The Plymouth Landing space at 600 Montreal Street offered a fantastic view of the river as well as amazing architectural details such as concrete mushroom columns, exposed brick and original poured concrete ceilings. These features are getting harder and harder to find in a City that often seems flooded with box-like buildings clad with aluminum siding. Not very inspiring.

The only downfall to our original location is that we didn’t own the building. We spent many days driving around the city looking for what might be a new home for OMI. Our goal was to find a building that “told a story”. We wanted wide open space that we could make our own, something unique that had local significance. Just when we were about to give up, our agent told us that the old Mary JHL Black Library was up for sale. Immediately many childhood memories came flooding back and when we toured the space, we could already see our new showroom starting to take shape in our minds. This was it!

Buying the old library has been one of the best moves we have made for our business. Although the original building was built in the 1930s and the addition in the 60s, it is solid and built to last. As we carefully planned our transformation for the space, we intentionally kept a mix of old and new. We kept some of the original features such as the terrazzo floors and deco handrails in the front and back stairwells but added new windows across the front to let natural light pour into our workspace. As a provider of environmentally conscious interior building products, we also wanted to showcase how our products could be moved from our previous location and reused in our new space. All of our glass demountable walls, carpet tile made from recycled fishing nets and modular, flexible furniture solutions were picked up and moved from our old location to our new one. Why build new walls when you can just move the ones you already have?!

Visitors to our new building are amazed by the transformation but are also quick to tell a story about a play or puppet show they remember attending as kids. We are proud to be part of the Westfort community and look forward to many years in our new home.