Camp House will double in size—but keep its cozy vibe.
Since the summer of 2010, a warm and intimate space on the Southside has become one of Chattanooga’s favorite small music…and readings…and business birthing…and general hanging-out venues.
So when the word on the street was that the Camp House was going to have to move, a lot of people got grumpy. But Matt Busby, the Camp House’s director, says he’s known for a year that artist (and landlord) Cessna Decosimo needed to reclaim the studio space he had given up to create the Camp House.
“We immediately began putting it out there to everyone we knew that we were looking for somewhere to move,” Busby says. “And several people told us it would be a good idea to contact Sen. [Bob] Corker.” The senator, as most people are aware, also owns numerous properties within the city.
And on July 31, Busby was able to release the information that “the Mission Chattanooga and U.S. Senator Bob Corker have forged an agreement to build out the new Camp House at 119 E. MLK Blvd.”
The new location, scheduled to open at the end of 2014, will more than double the current Camp House seating capacity, taking it up to 500. Busby is well aware that Camp House fans are concerned about losing the charm and openness of the current location. “The physical space of the Camp House has shaped and defined who we are,” he said. “It’s been ideal for connection and collaboration. But we will do our best to keep the ambiance. Beauty is not something we are willing to abandon.”
The new Camp House will continue to house Mission Chattanooga church services and also continue as a coffee bar, restaurant and music venue. A new outdoor patio space is planned as the former bottom floor of a parking garage is reimagined. The site is also included in the city’s plans for an “entertainment zone”.
Busby notes that the bigger venue will enable the Camp House to book bands and musicians whose audience exceeds around 150 or so—and that he will looking to book those bands as they come through Chattanooga. He points to singer/songwriter Noah Gundersen as an example. Gundersen played the Camp House two years ago, before his career took off, and Busby thinks he might well be able to book him again in the larger space.
He’s also enthusiastic about the prospect of welcoming back organizations and events that, in some cases, evolved in the Camp House space, but have outgrown it. “LAUNCH, Co.Lab, green|spaces…we’ll be able to host events for them again.”
In fact, Busby reveals, part of LAUNCH 6 will be a project that “honors the current space. We’ll be asking people, ‘How has the Camp House affected you? Tell us your story.’”
So, no need to panic, Camp House lovers. Your hangout will not be history—just bigger, and soon, even closer to the heart of downtown. Keep your mugs warm.