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2009-10-22 digital edition
Front Page October 22, 2009  RSS feed

Old Firehouse reopens as new concert venue

Staff Report

Attracted to the area after attending one of Edom's art festivals, Jeff and Judy Gottesman have completed renovating The Old Firehouse in Edom, adding a music venue to an already arts-rich community.

"With our shared love of folk music, we realized this would be a perfect space for concerts to be held," Jeff Gottesman said. "The small, intimate ... `coffeehouse' music room is a labor of love carved out of a portion of the old Edom Volunteer Firehouse."

The Gottesmans purchased the building on FM 279 in January and started renovations immediately.

"Our first priority was to renovate the front of the building and create a new gallery for my artistic photography, as well as a small studio for my wife who is a licensed massage therapist, " he said. "After finishing these two areas, we still had around 1,000 square feet in the back of the building where the fire trucks used to be parked."

The project wasn't easy.

"The more we moved forward, the more we realized had to be done," Jeff Gottesman said. "I sometimes had thoughts of the movie `The Money Pit' when we discovered the roof leaked - and leaked even more after repairs were made."

So the couple ended up doing some of the renovations on their own, and were even assisted by one of the singer-songwriters scheduled to perform on opening night at The Old Firehouse.

From there, Jeff Gottesman built the stage and installed lighting for the music venue.

The sound system, chairs, decorations, and other furniture were slowly gathered from auctions, flea markets, and craigslist.com. A large window air conditioner was installed.

"We realized that the powerful air conditioner we really needed to cool this room - plus 50 people - was way beyond our budget. Luckily, on the evening of our first concert, (the weather) cooperated and our air conditioning was sufficient for everyone to be comfortable."

While most folk-music venues are in churches and at other non-profit organizations, the Gottesmans are footing the bill for the renovations.

However, most of the money collected for admission to the concerts will go to performers.

"These songwriters are incredibly talented people who can turn any story line or life experience into a song that is relevant to each person who hears it," Jeff Gottesman said.

"Most singer-songwriters live on what they can make performing around the country and selling their CDs. Here in east Texas, several acoustic music venues have closed over the last six months, so it's even more important that The Old Firehouse exist and draw a crowd."

The Gottesmans moved from Dallas to East Texas about 18 months ago after being captivated by the small arts community of Edom.

"We fell in love with Edom's beauty and creative nexus four years ago when Jeff participated in his first Edom Festival of the Arts. We both had been living in Dallas for over 18 years and were taken with the beauty of the east Texas landscape."

They married in April in a ceremony by Rabbi Neal Katz of Tyler, the opening act during the Firehouse's inaugural concert.

Bill Ward and Tim Chauvin are scheduled to perform Saturday, at 7:30 p.m., during the Firehouse's second-ever concert.

On Nov. 15, Tom Geddie is has been booked for poetry reading and, the following Sunday, Dana Cooper is scheduled to perform. The Dreamsicles is set for Dec. 19.

The Old Firehouse is smoke- and alcohol-free. It is also home to the JeffreyLance Photography Visual Arts Gallery and Essential Massage.

Visit theoldfirehouse.net.