I’m sure the majority of you have been to 123 Pleasant Street before (if not, go as soon as physically possible). While you’re there – full tuned into the music blasting from the stage – it might peak your interest if you look at some of the signs hanging from the walls. Hell, even the brick walls hold some deep Morgantown history.
This week I got to meet with Michael Caplinger, the historian for 123 Pleasant St. who has compiled a boat load of information about what the brick row has been over the decades.
Back when Marsha Ferber and company first started the music scene up in 1982, they had the intent of making it a place where everyone was welcome. The now famous music scene came from her “desire to have a place where people could ‘find their way to freedom,’ by interacting and listening to music without regard to skin color, dress, sexuality, hair style, or ideas.”
Quite a welcoming beginning.
The infamous stage – where many a famous musician has planted their feet and belted their heart out on – has not been renovated too much. In fact, it used to be smaller prior to the venue being refurbished in the mid to late 1990’s.
“It was smaller than that back then in the 90’s and 80’s,” Caplinger said. “When (the current owner) bought the place, it extended out, it gave you a lot more room thank god. They used to put 12-person bands up there when it was a small stage and it was like ‘oh god this is way to tight.’ It was an incredible improvement.”
Take a look up, and you may notice the ceiling might not be so 21st century looking. That’s because it’s just barely a 20th century roof.
“When (the owner) renovated the place, that’s when they uncovered the ceilings,” Caplinger said. “Nobody knew they were there because there were two drop ceilings that had been hung over the years, so he just started pulling out those ceilings and it was like ‘holy shit, there’s a 1921 tin roof.'”
So next time you’re roaring to the music, take a look up at a little piece of the roaring twenties.
Then take a look at the surrounding walls. Plenty of nostalgia for some of the older folks here in Morgantown who remember the Underground Railroad.
Here’s a couple original signs for the 1980’s music club that started the scene in Morgantown.
(Part 2 of an ongoing series..)