Saturday, August 3, 2013


From Free House to Christian Brothers to Skylight.  We started calling the coffeehouse Skylight after we moved into our final location on Broad Street.  When we got the building in the early '80's, it had been divided down the middle with two fronts.  Walls had to come down and the suspended ceiling had to go.  It might have been Don that discovered what was hidden above the drop ceiling in the main hall...tin-type ceiling and a huge skylight.  Yep, that drop ceiling had to go for sure.

The skylight had long since been boarded over, but it was still something to behold.   Christian Brother's Association moved in and renovated as we could afford to do so.  There was always work to be done on the building.  One entrance was used as the main entrance that we made for the record store.  Visitors would have to pass through the record section to get to the coffeehouse seating area.  It wasn't long before rough barn wood was nailed up along the walls on up to the ceiling.  That's still there today.  Wood plank floors were then installed, which also included an carpeted audience pit and a stage.

I wasn't as involved in Christian Brothers at this time but I did suggest the name that was adopted.  I dropped by one day while David Asbury was in the building.  David told me that the CBA board was trying to come up with a name.  I thought it was obvious.  I pointed over our heads and said, "Why not SKYLIGHT?"  The skylight in the main room is the most unique architectural feature about the building.  Besides...the theological implications alone were astounding.

Like I said, Christian Brothers worked renovating the building as we had funds to do so. The skylight didn't actually see the light of day for quite sometime to come.  During the initial renovation of the main room, florescent lighting was installed in the skylight frame.  The original skylight glass had been leaning against the wall in the back of the building, but Christian Brothers never got to see the blue sky in the 16 years we were there.

It wasn't until Christian Brother Association ended our ministry and gave the building to the church that had been leasing from us to use as a church on Sundays.  Christian Brothers helped to facilitate many small ministries down through the years.  Even while Vineyard was leasing from us, they were helping with the ongoing renovation project.  After CBA ended,  it was the Vineyard fellowship that continued with the renovation and the skylight was made to let that beautiful natural sunlight finally fill the room.
Gadsden Vineyard has been in the building ever since.

The sign above was made in 1993 when Christian Brothers finished with the front facade.  I was living in Bowling Green, KY at the time and contracted a sign maker friend of mine, Troy Williams, to make it.  I remember driving it down to Alabama one weekend. Jim Thompson was still living and I'm sure he's the guy that hung it.

The sign is still around, but not on the front anymore.  It's now hanging on the a wall upstairs in the old Hagedorn building that Vineyard purchased next door.  The church now meets in what was the old Hagedorn building because it facilitates a larger congregation. The space next door is called the Skylight Room.

Last night The Guise played in The Skylight Room and being on that old stage took me back a couple of decades.  I love that old room, that old stage.   A lot of great music played beneath that skylight, many enduring relationships were found there.   Christian Brother's SKYLIGHT provided a wonderful intimate setting for music and friendship.

 ON STAGE @ SKYLIGHT70's Reunion in the 90's
Faith and Don Peters, Barry Goss, Brook and David Finlayson
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