UPDATE: Lexington Writer’s Room finds new location after fire

The nonprofit signed a lease to relocate to the former Common Grounds Coffee Shop on East High Street

UPDATE 8:45 P.M., APRIL 14, 2022:

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Lexington Writer’s Room is ready to write a new chapter in its history after signing a lease agreement to relocate to the former Common Grounds Coffee Shop at 343 East High Street in Lexington.

The nonprofit was forced to find a new location after its space was destroyed in a two-alarm fire last month at the corner of Upper and Second Streets.

“We are so grateful to our local community and to the larger writing world for its support during this difficult time,” said co-founder and LWR Board Chair Lisa Haneberg. “We remain as committed as ever to our mission of supporting local writers with workspace, space for events, and a robust writing community. We are doubly thrilled to be able to move into such a beloved building—one where many of us have written in the past.”
The LWR is a nonprofit organization that exists to create an inclusive, collaborative, and supportive environment where local writers produce more work and expand their readership.
The LWR subsidizes the cost of membership to keep it affordable, as well as providing additional support to underrepresented writers in financial need. It has received grant funding from the Kentucky Humanities and Kentucky Arts Councils, among others.
Founded at the beginning of the pandemic, the LWR has managed to thrive in the past year, going from 13 original member writers to 54 now, and developing close partnerships with the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning and its Kentucky Black Writers Collaborative.
The LWR also extends its thanks to all who have reached out with support and donations.
So far, more than $12,000 has been raised to support the nonprofit’s recovery and move costs.
The organization says it will be working diligently to replace the items lost in the fire and reopen in its new space in the coming months.
“It has been so heartening to see people step up with financial support for our mission,” said Gwenda Bond, co-founder and board member. “Our needs continue, so we invite everyone to keep spreading the word as we work toward moving into our new space. Kentucky has a special literary tradition and we plan to be part of it for a long time to come.”
To find out more information or donate to the LWR, visit: https://www.lexwritersroom.com


UPDATE 2:07 P.M., APRIL 1, 2022:

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Investigators say a two-alarm fire that gutted an old, multi-story office building on West Second Street at North Upper Street overnight Thursday was accidental, according to the Lexington Fire Department.

Investigators say the cause was not arson or any criminal foul play.

The fire department says investigators will begin working with insurance investigators with additional information expected to be released in the future.

No injuries were reported, although the fire department says some firefighters suffered minor bumps and bruises fighting the fire, which took more than four hours to bring under control.


UPDATE 11:15 P.M. MARCH 31, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Fire crews are still looking into the cause of an early morning two-alarm fire that heavily damaged an apartment, law office and nonprofit. Firefighters say no one was in the building at the time of the fire but because of renovations over the years, and the way the building’s divided, it made it virtually impossible to fight the fire from inside. The high winds only adding to the challenge.

“It’s really about the community and this is sort of the hub of where the community gets their work done,” Lexington Writer’s Room board chair Lisa Haneberg says about the building.

The Lexington Writer’s Room is a nonprofit made up of 54 writers ranging all genres and skill-level. Haneberg says the space meant more to the group than just the stuff inside and after Thursday morning’s fire, the writing community has now lost its place of comfort.

“It’s a vibe, it’s a feeling, it’s relaxing, it’s inspiring, it’s colorful, it’s bright, and so we’re going to have to muster the energy to do that all again,” says Haneberg.

The Lexington Writer’s Room doesn’t know the extent of the damage and whether it will need to find a new temporary or permanent space.

“It’s a very important place for your creativity, it feeds and fuels our work,” says Haneberg. “But right now, we’re all just sort of feeling taken from and that’s what fire does, that’s what damage does.”

The nonprofit says it “tricked out” its 6 rooms to spark creativity and give space for brainstorming and working through writers block with others.

“We don’t all just want to sit at a stodgy desk for 8 hours. We need to get up, we need to sit in a comfortable chair, we need to go by art, we need to sit next to a plant. This is just how creatives work,” says Haneberg. “I’m hoping that there’s some things that we won’t have to redo but we don’t know.”

While the nonprofit tries to figure out its next move, a fundraiser can be found on the Lexington Writer’s Room website linked HERE. You can also find this link on the organization’s Facebook page HERE.

“We’ve had so many people reach out to us to say ‘we’re so sorry this has happened, we love what you do, and we’re ready to help,'” says Haneberg. “So it’s going to be OK.”


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Firefighters battled a structure fire in downtown Lexington early Thursday morning.

According to the Lexington Fire Department, a two-alarm fire heavily damaged a two-story building at 205 West Second Street. The department says crews responded around 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

According to firefighters, the building is split-up into an apartment and an office space which included a law office and the nonprofit Lexington Writer’s Room.

Fire crews say no one was in the building at the time of the fire. Because of renovations over the years, and the way the building is divided, firefighters say it made it impossible to fight the fire from inside. Firefighters say the high winds also added to the challenge. The building suffered heavy damage.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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