There are few things in life as stressful as having to move. I will put up with often-deplorable living conditions, sometimes for years, if it means avoiding cracking out the masking tape and calling in favors from friends with trucks.
Still, even though they chose to move at a time when walking outside feels like being slapped by the sun, I'm hopeful the Folk School of Chattanooga's decision to relocate marks the start of a promising new chapter for the institution.
Between now and a grand opening in September, the school will transition from its North Shore location to a 5,000-square-foot building at 1800 Rossville Ave., the former home of Ignis Glass Studio.
After four years of aggressively recruiting students, the school has been a victim of its own success, attracting more pupils and larger audiences than its former, 1,700-square-foot building could fit.
Last fall, school co-founders Matt Evans and Christie Burns began looking into about a dozen new buildings. Some were too expensive, some were too far away and some required extensive renovations.
Transforming the former glass-blowing studio into a suitable home will cost about $48,000 but will yield ample teaching space, a lobby/messaging center, performance hall and possibly retail space and cafe.
The Southside building is under a three-year lease, and even though it probably won't be the school's final destination, it should come closer to meeting Burns' vision.
"This feels like a return to the original plan, and I'm really happy about it," she said. "The old spot was great, but the new spot puts me within arm's reach of the Jefferson Heights neighborhood and the Southside. It's wonderful."
This is the school's second move since 2008, when Burns and Evans began teaching out of cramped classrooms in what used to be Mountain Music on Dayton Boulevard.
After such claustrophobic beginnings, the Forest Avenue building seemed a palace with larger rooms and a rooftop with probably the best view of the city aside from Signal and Lookout mountains.
As nice as it was to see artists such as Bela Fleck and uilleann piper Cillian Vallely perform there, however, the room could feel crowded with only 35 people in attendance.
After getting a sneak peek of the new location on Sunday, I'm excited by its potential. It was somewhat hard to envision a stage and classrooms in a space still occupied by Ignis' old equipment, but Burns' enthusiasm for the move is infectious, and her track record is proven.
They still have a long row to hoe before the project is complete, but given how much the school has grown in four years, I wouldn't be surprised to be writing about them making another move in three years. Let's just hope the weather is less brutal then.
If you'd like to contribute to the Folk School's renovation effort at the new location, you can donate at www.causeway.org/profile/view/folk-school-of-Chattanooga.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...