Red Rose Building in Murfreesboro in Danger of Being Demolished; Locals Attempting to Step In

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For any longtime Middle Tennessee residents who happen to be local rock buffs and/or historical buffs, Murfreesboro’s Red Rose is a familiar locale. Once a dairy operated by the Morgan Green family, the Rose eventually became a coffee and record shop and music venue operated by current Glossary bassist and Grand Palace honcho Bingham Barnes. The cafe hosted some unlikely and surprisingly high-profile acts in its heyday, including The Gossip, Deerhoof, Mooney-Suzuki and The Faint, not to mention countless local acts who earned their stripes on the Rose’s stage (The Features and Imaginary Baseball League among them).

But being an all-ages venue that tries to cater to the youngsters while supporting itself via the lunch crowd … well, that’s no easy task in a college town like Murfreesboro. In 2004, then-owner Debra Kitzis decided not to renew the lease, and Red Rose was shuttered. Since then, the building has remained in a state of disrepair, even landing at No. 11 on this top 10 list of endangered Rutherford County sites. That’s not a joke — it really is No. 11 on a top 10 list. (The word “afterthought” comes to mind.) Over the years, there have been some attempts to get the place up and running once more, but nothing that really stuck. Now, Murfreesboro’s Josh Bright alleges that the city intends to demolish the site, and he hopes to do something about it. Can the Rose ever be salvaged, or will this be a futile attempt to save a space that’s been more or less doomed from the outset? More after the jump.

Bright has started a petition to save Red Rose. The petition mostly features a business plan outlining Bright’s intentions for the building, and he admits it’s primarily just a way of calling attention to the building’s impending demolition. Says Bright:

The City of Murfreesboro issued a letter to the owners explaining that the space is not up to codes and that they have 90 days to repair the building or it will be demolished.

As far as opening the space, I have personally met with the realtors about buying the space and they refuse. They simply believe that the building should be bulldozed because it will not make enough money. The realtors will not even let me look at the inside of the building, because they are simply interested in selling the space to a corporate entity.

The petition is simply to raise awareness about this space, because I believe it is historically signifigant and I personally would like to open it as a space to support the arts.

I have written a business plan for this space to open it and keep it alive. As of now, I have contacted the owners and i'm trying to negotioate with them directly, Because the realtors seem to be interested in opening a Wal-greens rather than preserving a historic site signifigant to Middle Tennessee.

I am planning on approaching the mayor of Murfreesboro and presenting him with all of my information and my proposal in the coming weeks. I'm going to do all I can to open this space, because I believe it is historically signifigant to the arts in Middle Tennessee.

According to former proprietor Bingham Barnes, some locals are attempting to get the Red Rose building listed on the historical register, meaning it would be protected from demolition. As of now, that appears to be the most viable way to keep the building standing, and thusly increase Bright’s chances of being able to purchase the space.

Barnes went on to explain that, in Murfreesboro, “Zoning and codes are a nightmare.” While the city is quick to aid and expedite the process of building a new structure, Barnes says, doing anything with an old space is particularly difficult. He cited the city’s standards for paved parking spaces, which — given the lot’s limitations — have long been the bane of Red Rose.

At any rate, many people with a connection to Red Rose have expressed the sort of exasperated resignation that comes from fighting an uphill battle with limited resources for years and years. A situation in which the community cherishes an institution and hopes to see it stick around, but have little way of changing the owners’ minds. … Hmm. Sounds vaguely familiar. Steve Haruch noted the parallels between this situation and another local story.

So what say you, locals? Would you like to see the Red Rose salvaged? Is there any hope for the place? Are you indifferent? Any ideas? We'll follow this one as it unfolds.

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