Dating from 1949, the building at 203 West Main Street has a powerful presence. Designed by local architect John Schell for the Loyal Order of Moose as their Bloomsburg Lodge #623, the building served the organization for half a century. At the time of the building’s opening in 1950, the Morning Press wrote a sixteen page special feature, which can be viewed by using this link for pages 1-6, this link for pages 7-12, and this link for pages 13-16. Noted for its ArtDeco facades and interiors, especially the semicircular bar in the Grille Room, the building houses a six-lane bowling alley and numerous smaller spaces. All of these features remain intact today as the building starts a new life as a center for art, culture, and the community.
The name Moose Exchange pays tribute to the building’s roots as well as its future. Many who have known 203 West Main Street as “the Moose” may continue to refer to it that way – but in its new incarnation, “exchange” more accurately describes its function: Every day, people of all ages and backgrounds will come into the building and their horizons will expand as information and knowledge pass among them.
One might say that this new era in the building’s life began decades ago with the museums of Harry L. Magee, owner of the Magee Carpet Company in Bloomsburg and collector of everything from Native American artifacts to full-size trolley cars. His museums did not survive the Hurricane Agnes flooding of 1972, but his granddaughter Drue Magee inherited Harry’s love of Bloomsburg and his desire to save important things. Thus when the Moose moved out of 203 West Main Street in 1999, Drue bought it to preserve as an asset for her hometown.
It took a decade, but eventually Drue recruited an enthusiastic group of volunteers who shared her goal of making this landmark building an anchor for the west end of Bloomsburg. The first tenants moved into the Moose Exchange in the winter of 2010, with the first public event Downtown Bloomsburg Inc.’s ArtWalk that February. The “ArtWalkIn” drew 800 people to the building on an unseasonably warm Thursday evening, and the energy and enthusiasm of that night helped to quickly fill almost all of the available studio and retail spaces. As time passes, more and more events and people have come to the Exchange, from line dancing and concerts, to cooking and painting classes, to Bloomsburg University-sponsored movies, performances, and exhibits — with no end of the possibilities in sight.
203 West Main Street Inc. now owns its landmark building free and clear, thanks to the large-scale generosity of Drue Magee: On December 21st, 2012, Drue transferred ownership of the property to the 501(c)(3) non-profit, and the Moose Exchange will serve in perpetuity as YOUR arts and community center.
The Moose Exchange is a project of 203 West Main Street Inc., a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation. We have federal 501(C)(3) non-profit status from the I.R.S., making your contributions to the Exchange tax deductible. You can make a difference at the Moose Exchange, as a volunteer, business owner, customer, partner, donor – please get in touch!