Writers, bakers or accessory makers: 3rd Ward wants you

3rd Ward Philadelphia events director Jestis Deuerlein inside the nearly finished work space at 1227 N. 4th St. SAM NEWHOUSE / STAR PHOTO

The Philadelphia branch of Brooklyn’s creative work and education space will open in April in NoLibs. It will also feature event space and a full-service restaurant. 3rd Ward currently seeks staff, instructors, and most importantly, students.

Can you teach a unique or useful craft? Are you looking for a class to learn a new skill and explore your creativity?

3rd Ward Philadelphia might be just the place for you.

The multidisciplinary workspace and education center is hiring for a variety of positions, and will open in April at 1227 N. 4th St., just steps outside the boundaries of Northern Liberties.

Instructors — and students — are needed for classes in 13 mediums from woodworking and jewelry making to cooking and computer programming. Instrutor applicants can also pitch an open-ended class idea.

“We’re getting really amazing candidates,” said events director Jestis Deuerlein, who said that at her last count, she had received over 250 applications.

Now 3rd Ward just needs to lure in the paying students.

Located inside a 27,000-square-foot former box factory and church, 3rd Ward Philadelphia will offer not only classes, but event space, a full-service restaurant, and large classroom and work areas with specific facilities for creators of all types.

“I think we’re hungry for this in Philly,” Deuerlein said.

3rd Ward first opened its doors in Brooklyn, N.Y. about seven years ago, and has since thrived as a place for creative types interested in working and learning together.

Plans for a Philadelphia branch took shape two years ago.

“Something about choosing a shared place where creative people work, whether you’re making stuff or writing — it can be more inspiring,” Deuerlein said.

Future 3rd Ward members, for a monthly fee, can work and use all available facilities for their own artistic creations as well.

Deuerlein said that while most of the students at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn are aged 25 to 45 and are looking for professional skills or personal enrichment, there are always surprises.

“3rd Ward has discovered that some of the people who ended up becoming our greatest members are not at all what we expected,” Deuerlein said.

Some of these success stories have included retirees and mid-career individuals who changed their lives by learning one skill, she said.

And those skills can be diverse. 3rd Ward specializes in teaching specific, complex skills, including both old-fashioned but popular crafts like wood burning, welding, and hat, shoe, or jewelry making, and in-demand tech skills like search engine optimization, WordPress website design and Final Cut Pro film editing.

The 3rd Ward staff is tossing around ideas for one-day classes at as low as $20, while longer classes will cost more, and a monthly membership will cost upwards of $150 per month.

But Deuerlein said she’s optimistic that what 3rd Ward offers will be worth the money to artists, creative professionals and freelance workers in the neighborhood.

“It’s all about, ‘let’s see what sticks,’” Deuerlein said. “You can’t pigeonhole what 3rd Ward is, because it’s this living organism.”

The April opening has been delayed almost a full year from the original projected summer 2012 opening. 3rd Ward in Philadelphia still needs additional equipment and hardware for classes.

But staff are currently putting the finishing touches on renovations, and the space has an impressive interior. Much of the original brick and concrete walls has been preserved, as well as rough-hewn wooden pillars that run from the ground floor up through the building.

There’s a 1,200-square-foot roof deck, and the building will also have a “green” roof with a large bed of grass.

“This space far surpasses what is available in Brooklyn,” Deuerlein said. “The Philly location was designed to maximize class space.”

The renovation project is being run jointly by 3rd Ward, local businessman Paul Maiello, who owns the building, and New York developer David Belt.

Deuerlein believes Philadelphia is the ideal place for 3rd Ward’s expansion, as it is home to a virtual army of freelancers, creative professionals, and artists.

“This is that temporary office, away from home, away from a coffee shop, that gives you the chance to work with other creative people,” she said.

For more information, visit 3rdward.com.

Reporter Sam Newhouse can be reached at 215–354–3124 or at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com