Construction before destruction

Lea and Brent Goates stand in front of the former American Printing Co. building on 4th Street. The building will soon be home to two very different businesses, The Art Dept. and The Wreck Center. This photo was taken in May during the Imagine the Possibilities Tour. The couple was standing next to a bubble machine. David Stone photo

The Art Dept., Wreck Center likely to open in spring


Construction is under way on two new Downtown businesses and the owners are hoping for spring 2023 openings. The businesses — The Art Dept. and The Wreck Center — are located at 14-16 S. 4th Street and are owned by Lea and Brent Goates. 

“Work just started about two weeks ago and the contractor is hoping for 90 days,” Lea said this week. “We feel that’s a little optimistic. We’d love to open before the holidays, but I’d be surprised. Spring seems likely, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Other than having the same owners, the two businesses will have very little in common.

“One will be for creating beautiful things, and the other will be for breaking stuff,” said Brent.

The Wreck Center will feature creative ways to smash things. Instead of the paint brushes and easels found next door, visitors to The Wreck Center will brannish baseball bats, golf clubs, crow bars and sledge hammers for their creative escape.

“The Wreck Center will be the place to come have a good time, let off some steam and break stuff,” Brent said. “There are rage rooms all over the world, and we checked some out. They are fun, and you get to do something that’s normally not acceptable. Plus, someone else cleans up your mess.”

So what do you break in a rage room? Whatever’s there.

“We’ll have ceramics, glassware, small electronics, whatever we can find,” he said. “We will take donations — if you have something left from a garage sale or things you just don’t want, if it’s breakable, we can give it one last use before it heads to the dump.”

The Wreck Center also will be 3,300 square feet and will feature four smash rooms, a kids area with unbreakable items, a lounge area and a party room complete with a small kitchenette. 

All “smashers” will be required to wear goggles, gloves, long pants or coveralls, and closed-toe shoes.

“It’s going to be messy,” Brent chuckled. “We will do some splatter painting, play with silly string and throw some pies. Mostly whipped cream pies — there will be an upcharge for apple.”

Lea said the smash rooms will have plexiglass walls so visitors can sit in the lounge area and watch “the rage” as they await their turn to wreak mayhem.

Lea said she hopes The Art Dept. will become a gathering spot for Temple’s art community.

“I’m hoping The Art Dept. will foster a sense of community among local artists,” she said. “We want to help grow the arts community in town.”

An art gallery featuring the work of local artists will be featured in the front of the building behind a front wall that will consist mainly of glass.

“The gallery will be out front, then we will have workshops and classrooms,” said Lea, who holds a fine arts degree from UMHB. “Our classes will offer a variety of media — watercolors, clay, drawing. I’d like to include floral design, cake decorating and maybe some sewing classes. We will see what people want to do.”

Lea said The Art Dept. will cater to creative minds of all ages, including children.

“The back half of the 3,300-square-foot building will be studio space where we will have a variety of equipment,” she said. “We’re planning on having a laser cutter, a 3D printer, a pottery wheel and kiln, an etching press and screen printing for shirts and other cloth items.”

“We’ve had requests to include some welding, woodworking and jewelry making as well,” she said.

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