Just about a year after moving to its current location, Sound Conservatory in downtown Rock Island is in danger of shutting down unless it can pay for a $250,000 roof replacement.
Andrzej Kozlowski originally opened the music academy and music retailer in March 2022 on 3rd Avenue next to dphilms downtown, but because of rapid growth last summer moved to renovate the ground floor of the historic building at 1600 2nd Ave.
Sound Conservatory – which sells pianos, other instruments, sheet music and offers private lessons – has grown in the past year to 220 music students amongst 12 teachers. It has created a sophisticated performance venue (with elegant chandeliers) in its present building.
Kozlowski wants to buy the three-story, 122-year-old building from the YWCA for a proposed $205,000, but is faced with a major issue regarding the 30-year-old-plus roof. He said this week that he can’t get a mortgage on the building until the roof is fixed, and the YWCA can’t afford to do it, as they’re in the process of completing fundraising for its new $19-million facility at 5th Avenue and 17th Street, Rock Island.
“We have been informed that our roof needs a full rebuild including parapet walls that need serious attention before they become a structural issue. If we do not address these issues sooner than later, they may result in our building being shutdown… meaning, we close doors for good, Kozlowski wrote this week for a Sound Conservatory GoFundMe campaign, with a $250,000 goal.
The Sound Conservatory building opened in 1901 as The Illinois Theatre. It operated successfully as a live theater for several years, hosting traveling stage companies, vaudeville, musical performances and sporting events. By 1916, it had become a movie house, Kozlowski said.
The theater was remodeled and updated in 1920 but was open only intermittently for the next several years. In 1929, the interior of the structure was largely gutted for conversion to a Montgomery Ward department store.
In its later years, the building was occupied by a furniture store, until 2005, when it was taken over by the Quad Cities YWCA.
“With such a rich history being part of Rock Island, Sound Conservatory wants to help preserve it and continue to build on its history,” Kozlowski wrote for his fundraising page. “But we can only do so with your help.
“Sound Conservatory as a business is a strong growing business that is already profiting, but yet still too new to have the capital resources or financing options through traditional lending to cover the costs of the roof repairs,” he wrote.
“We are now turning to the community for help so that we can continue to offer all the things we do and grow on that.”
The benefits of the business
The GoFundMe page offers many reasons for Sound Conservatory’s survival:
- “We are the largest local used piano dealer that offers pianos at unbeatable prices to make owning a piano easy to afford. We even offer an extremely affordable piano rental program for those who aren’t sure if they want to buy a piano or do not have the financial means to buy one outright.”
- “We offer a concert series that has been bringing in world-class, Grammy-winning artists to perform here in Rock Island for our Quad City community.”
- “We have offered scholarships to over 24 students from families with financial difficulties that need assistance in furthering their music education. We believe that money shouldn’t play defining role in whether a child can or cannot study music.”
- “We hold instrument and lesson giveaways regularly.”
- “We have partnered with many of our local public schools with a program we call ‘Pop Music In The Classical Ensemble’ where we educate students on the capabilities of the different instruments available and break down the stigma that playing a classical instrument means to can only play classical music.”
- “We have also partnered with our neighbors at the YWCA to offer their kids monthly instrument ‘petting zoo.’ Our teachers perform and showcase their instruments for the kids and give them all a chance to try out the instruments themselves.”
- “We are partnered with Larson Band Instrument Repair and Taets Piano Services and our own in house guitar repair/maintenance service to bring you the highest level of instrument care. We also have our own in-house piano restoration shoppe!”
- “We have our own piano moving division so we can offer professional piano moving/relocation for our piano customers and customers in the Quad Cities needing their pianos relocated.”
“Our biggest goal, which is a result of the combination of all the things we do, is to help revitalize downtown Rock Island and make it a thriving community again,” Kozlowski wrote. “Through job creation, tax revenue generation through our retail sales, education programs and entertainment events but most importantly, bringing the community together, we believe we are a strong yet still fast-growing contributor to that goal.”
“Doing the work to the roof is far worth the actual value of the building once it’s fixed and preserving the history of this building,” he said Tuesday. “Also, with what we are doing here in downtown, it’s really needed for the community and I can’t let this be the reason we fail.”
Kozlowski’s next big project is expanding into the second floor, creating a 450-seat performance venue where Sound Conservatory can offer “some of the most amazing music performances that you’ll find in the Quad Cities and beyond,” he said.
Saturday farewell concert
Sound Conservatory is hosting the next event in its 2023 Summer Concert Series on Saturday, July 22, at 7 p.m., with the QC farewell concert of pianist William Campbell.
The prolific composer (who taught at St. Ambrose University and led contemporary music at St. Paul Lutheran Church) is moving with his wife to Portland, Ore., to be closer to family.
Campbell’s new album “Together We Rise” is comprised of piano and electronics that includes anthemic, virtuosic works and quiet music for inner growth.
Bringing together aspects of his film scores and solo piano music, Campbell weaves together a unique musical experience. “This music was created in my hope that we can all work for the common good and justice for everyone within our society,” he has said. “It’s a concept album intended to inspire strength to move forward in confidence, rising up and lifting up others.”