(Photos by Jill Bock, Staff)
The local art and antiques business moved to 211 S. Main St. earlier this year, vastly expanding its floor space. "This is a gorgeous building that was a treasure to Charleston," she said about the building which was originally constructed in 1918 by W.C. Bryant.
Since the move three months ago, Manche said the new downtown location has provided an increase in traffic for the business.
"It has been unbelievable," she said with a pleased smile. She said as the word gets out about the relocation, she is in hopes even more customers will find the business.
Also the new location is providing Manche with an opportunity to expand what she can offer through The Red Geranium. "My goal is for an increase in art appreciation," said Manche. "Charleston needs more cultural opportunities."
Entering the large, imposing red brick building, visitors walk into a gallery dedicated to guest artists. On the first Saturday of each month, a special opening is held at The Red Geranium featuring the works of an individual artist. This month, Manche is featuring the works of Thomas Craig of Cape Girardeau.
Manche's own art studio and her works are in the room just off the gallery. It is here she teaches separate classes to adults and children on a weekly basis. Other special events are being planned on a regular basis by Manche. The first Wednesday of each month, she hosts a brunch for men only while the third Thursday is the "Charleston Tea Party," where the owner hosts a tea for local women.
A table manners class offered earlier this month went over quite well, Manche said. For youngsters ages 6-12, the class was taught by Sherry Austin.
Depending on demand, the next class could be offered as early as September, she said.
The antique gallery, which features large wooden tables covered with cloths and fine china, does double duty. While most of the pieces are for sale, they also provide the setting for the events hosted at The Red Geranium. The facilities can be rented for private parties ranging from business and club meetings to wedding showers and receptions to intimate teas and brunches.
At the back of the building's first floor is tucked away a small kitchen and the restrooms.
Manche pointed out because of the building's set up, it is easily divided to create cozy settings or provide lots of room for gatherings of up to 100.
The cost of the rental is negotiated based on the services required, Manche said.
Manche has more big plans for the three-story building. She intends to set aside the first Saturday of the month for music, making use of the piano already in the building. Eventually, she foresees two stages being added to the interior - one for performances in the larger main room and a second stage in an area set aside for children.
"Right now we are keeping things small and we are gradually getting things done," said Manche. "But there is potential for lots of growth."
This could eventually include expansion to the second floor, which she described as "gorgeous."
Manche said The Red Geranium works with the Charleston Arts and Tourism Commission to develop tourism and the arts in the community.
"We want to provide another reason for people to come to Charleston and also provide a place for the community," she explained.
The Red Geranium is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Those interested in the classes or rental can contact Manche at 683-4503.