But there it resides, comfortably on Farm to Market Road 279, just a few yards from The Shed Café, a rural oasis of folk music, photography and indie films.
The Old Firehouse (named as such because that’s precisely what it is, a building that at one time housed the Edom Volunteer Fire Department) first opened its doors on Sept. 20, 2009 and is run by Jeff and Judy Gottesman, a couple who transplanted themselves to Edom from Dallas. The two fell in love with the town almost immediately after finding themselves in town for the Edom Festival of the Arts.
“It was so beautiful and so wonderful an environment. I had never had that sort of experience where I was so touched by the land, except maybe in New Mexico,” Mrs. Gottesman said.
The building itself is quaint and cozy but still very much a work-in-progress. It took months of renovation to make it habitable (Mr. Gottesman described it as “a disaster” before moving in, with the ceiling falling in, “junk everywhere” and the unexpected need for a new roof), and even now there are still portions of the interior that remain unfinished as the Gottesmans continue to make improvements as their finances allow.
But one thing is certain, this venture is a true labor of love, birthed from and driven by a desire to bring good art to a town they love. The Gottesmans had met at a coffee house in Dallas known for its folk music and were eager to try their hand at a similar sort of venue.
“I had theoretically been retired for years, so this was a cool project and we could do it ourselves and there’s no one telling us what to do or how to do it. We had no idea if anyone out here would even be interested,” Mr. Gottesman said.
“We try to do something unique with each film,” Mr. Gottesman said.
The nine concert series is the biggest draw for them, however, with the Gottesmans taking a keen interest in bringing quality folk music artists (many from across the country) to their stage. They are quite selective with who they book for shows, with restrictions on content as well as specific requirements.
“We don’t have cover songs. We don’t even allow you to get on our stage if you play cover songs. For reasons like ASCAP and BMI, but also, I don’t want people playing cover songs. That’s not what we’re here for,” Mr. Gottesman said.
“If you don’t have enough original music for two one-hour sets, don’t even bother. Most of the people who come, they’ve never heard of these people that we bring, but they’re never disappointed. They keep coming back!”
Pierce Pettis will kick off this season of music with a performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Gottesmans said the response to the concerts has been both positive and surprising.
“It took on a life of its own. Jeff has been going to coffee houses since he was in college and has been a real aficionado of folk music. It just took on a life of its own. After the first concert, we thought of other people and it kept going,” Mrs. Gottesman said.
Right now, they make about enough to pay the musicians and break even, but it’s clear neither Jeff nor Judy (who also uses a portion of the venue to run her massage therapy practice) went into this expecting it to be a wild, runaway success. They’re simply content to evolve their business in a way that makes sense to them and provide a place where a sense of community can be developed.
Everything we do is a social event,” Mr. Gottesman said. “It’s not like the movies where you just come and sit down and eat your popcorn. Like you saw before the movie, everyone comes and they socialize. So it’s really about having another way of bringing the community together.”
The Old Firehouse is at 8241 Farm-to-Market Road 279 in downtown Edom. For more information about the gallery or entertainment, call 903-852-2781 or visit www.jeffreylancephotography.com/theoldfirehouse.