Folk School of Chattanooga forced out of building

Folk School of Chattanooga forced out of building

June 26th, 2013 by Tyler Jett in Local - Breaking News

Debbie Condry reads while her son, Aidan Condry, plays on the piano in the foyer at the The Folk School of Chattanooga in this file photo.

Debbie Condry reads while her son, Aidan Condry,...

Photo by Alyson Wright /Times Free Press.


This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.

The Folk School of Chattanooga needs a new place to play.

Christie Burns, the school's executive director, arrived to work Friday and found a letter taped to the front door, 1800 Rossville Ave. The message was three sentences, and straightforward: no certificate of insurance, no certificate of occupancy, violation of your lease.

The Folk School must leave by Monday, 10 days after Burns received the note from attorney Hank Hill, writing on behalf of Michelle Wells. She runs Loose Cannon Parties & Events next door and sublet some property to Burns last July.

Burns said the notice of evacuation arrived after Wells asked a fire marshal and a building inspector to inspect the Folk School. They found the building was out of code. It needed sprinklers and air conditioning.

But Burns said this was the case back in July, when she and Wells signed a three-year agreement. Why didn't someone inspect the building then, before the Folk School put its own money into renovating the place?

Burns said she and Wells have argued lately. She declined to go into details.

"I can't tell you what happened or why," Burns said. "I can just tell you there was a letter on our door. It's clear the landlords don't want us there."

The Folk School is a nonprofit organization aimed at building a music community. It offers private lessons and organized group sessions. And Burns said the school offers free events like concerts and jam sessions and workshops.

For now, the school's teachers are going to people's houses to give them their lessons. Tonight, Burns will host a jam session at her home.

She said the school needs a location because it allows more people to be together, and to collaborate. Beginning in January 2010, the school operated out of a location in Forest Avenue. It moved to Rossville Avenue last summer.

"We're all used to working with each other and being aware of each other's presence," she said. "We can hear each other through the walls. We don't know where we're going to be. ... None of us planned on spending our summer this way. It will be interesting to watch that space and see what is there next."

Hill declined to comment Tuesday, and Wells did not return messages left at numbers listed for two of her businesses, Loose Cannon and Events with Taste.

But earlier Tuesday, a reporter stopped by Loose Cannon and asked an employee if she knew the Folk School was leaving.

"I had not heard that," she said. "That's sad."

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfree or 423-757-6476.