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Jerry’s Juke Joint Recognized by Landmarks Foundation of Montgomery

Today, you can instantly listen to any song with paid subscription services like Spotify and Apple Music or free on YouTube. Or pay skyrocketed ticket prices to hear stars perform in large stadiums. Yet nothing beats the excitement and intimacy of live music in a small venue.

Covid-19 shuttered many independent live music venues worldwide. But they’re popping up again like Jerry’s Juke Joint at 108 Bibb St. in downtown Montgomery that found the ideal home in an old building with a musical history.

Jerry’s Juke Joint is the latest recipient of Renovator’s Open House, a program of the Landmarks Foundation of Montgomery, a nonprofit that has led the city’s historic preservation movement for 50 years. The program pays tribute to developers and property owners who put local derelict historic commercial and residential buildings back to use.

Jerry’s Juke Joint is a project of Kyser Property Management Inc. in Montgomery. David Mullen of DLM Architect Inc. in Auburn is the architect on the project.

An early 20th century commercial building proved to be ideal for the music venue. The two-story masonry structure has been used for music-related functions including a piano store. With a building footprint that’s 25’ wide and 100’ long with two floors, it’s similar in size to many of the smaller live music venues in Nashville, notes Jake Kyser, president of the partner company Jerry Kyser Builder Inc. The music venue was name after Kyser’s father Jerry Kyser.

Part of the renovation involved removing sections of the second floor to create a mezzanine overlooking the band stage on the first floor. This also allows private gatherings held upstairs to enjoy a view of the stage below.

“The placement of our stage at the front entrance of the building allows the music to flow onto the sidewalk and people walking by to see the band,” Kyser explains. A design that’s popular for live music venues in Nashville and New Orleans, he adds. Robert’s Western World in Nashville was an inspiration in the planning and design.

The building had a freight elevator to move pianos when the building was used as a piano store. The simple, counterweight elevator had to be taken out to make space for a stairwell and is “now a decorative piece, which is cool,” says Collier Neely, executive director of the Landmarks Foundation of Montgomery.

“It was very important to maintain the historic character of the building while modernizing all the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing,” Kyser explains, who hopes to open sometime between May and June. “We paid special attention to the stage lighting and sound equipment because live music is what JJJ is all about.”

The eye-catching sign with vintage lettering and a neon guitar was inspired by signs seen along Broadway, a major thoroughfare in downtown Nashville. The city of Montgomery’s Smart Code restricted the size of the sign, which Kyser would have liked bigger in keeping with those in Nashville.

Renovator’s Open House – patterned after the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans – is an event for members of the Landmarks Foundation of Montgomery. Members visit various sites and meet the property owners and others involved in the project including design professionals who talk about their project and take questions. It’s also a networking event, and Neely says contractors have gotten jobs through it.

Jerry’s Juke Joint being chosen as a recipient of Renovator’s Open House was rewarding, says Kyser. An opportunity to show off the building and the efforts put into preserving much of its original character.

“Having members of the Landmark’s Foundation get a sneak peek and hear the positive feedback from members actively involved in preserving historic properties made all of our hard work worthwhile. The exposure to such an esteemed group has really stirred up the excitement of opening soon.”

*Article Written by Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of Kyser Property Management Inc.

 

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