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Our History

Holyoke Creative Arts Center began in 1917 as an emergency food program during World War I, distributing meals through a soup kitchen, providing day care, and helping women whose husbands had been drafted learn to garden and preserve food. In 1926, it formally incorporated as the Holyoke Home Information Center and moved into the former Maplewood Hotel building, across the street from the Holyoke Public Library.

The focus broadened to include teaching classes in furniture refinishing, rug making, quilting, sewing and other “home arts.” Many immigrant women coming from Ireland, Poland, and Quebec to work in the mills were eager to learn home making skills in their new country.

For 70 years, the Home Information Center operated as a county extension program until the state legislature dissolved County government in 1998. In 1999, the Center took a new name – the Holyoke Creative Arts Center – relocated to the South Street Plaza in Holyoke and continued to develop as an art school under the administration of Holyoke Community College’s Continuing Education program.


In 2002, a year of deep state budget cuts, all state funding for the Center was eliminated – an annual grant of $100,000 representing nearly half of the operating budget – and the decision was also made to separate from the community college. In 2003, HCAC emerged as a newborn fully independent nonprofit arts organization for the first time in its 80-plus years and has been operating that way ever since.

In 2019, HCAC moved its main programs to the historic Mill City complex in West Springfield. The 3,300 square foot studio provides ample space for our special upholstery, chair caning, and decorative arts classes and workshops.

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