Following some extensive interior renovation and “swagification,” in the coming weeks the façade of Brick Row also will get a bit of a facelift. These are fitting transformations, as the businesses housed within also are taking new shape.
OTC (“Old Town Cornelius”) has transformed from an idea to an entity, with a new website (you’re on it), clear mission (to foster a sense of place and community connection through arts and culture), and awesome swag (t-shirts, hats, and more).
The swag factor is more than just a retail piece for the business–it is in keeping with the overall mission of OTC, as it encourages folks to wear clothes or display stickers that show their love for the arts, culture, and people that make Old Town truly unique.
In addition to the OTC items, the space features artwork by local artist Justin Christenbery, and lots of community resources, including maps, information about local businesses, and other community resources. It also offers a meeting space.
A Sense of Place
“We decided to open up here in Old Town Cornelius because it just seemed to have the feeling of endless potential,” founder Case Warnemunde said. “A business front on the main drag right in the heart of a cozy, close-knit town was the exact recipe we needed to turn a growing idea into actual businesses.”
OTC is a new arm of Bella Love, an organization Warnemunde founded five years ago with the aim to unite communities through the arts and promote the development of local music, arts and culture by providing creative outlets and effective promotion for them. He and Communications Director Jessica Boye are the folks behind events such as the ‘Tawba Walk Arts and Music Festival, Laketoberfest Brew and Music Festival, and 2nd Friday in Old Town Cornelius, as well as just about any other concert, open mic night, play, or festival that comes to OTC. Chances are, if you’ve attended an event in OTC, they have had some hand in it.
Brick Row’s location, across the street from the Old Town Public House on Catawba Avenue, is compelling because of both its geographic location and its history.
“We knew the geographic location was significant to the evolution of the arts district and cultivation of arts in our area,” Boye said, and that was a big draw.
Located between the railroad tracks and Main Street, not far from where the current live/work units are, in the early-to mid-1900s the original Brick Row was the bustling town center. It housed the post office, a couple of barber shops, shoe and jewelry repair shops, a pool hall and a café, among other businesses.
“It was a place where community members converged and experienced life together,” Boye said. “It seemed fitting to honor that history and name our space Brick Row, as it exists with the same goal: to bring community members together and celebrate the resurgence of excitement in the area of OTC through arts and cultural expression.”
The duo launched Brick Row as a somewhat amorphous, creative space in which to host art shows and exhibits. It also served as a meeting space for artists and activists.
“Over the years, we hosted fine art shows from talented local visual artists, pop-up artisan marketplaces, improv comedy workshops, and more. We also provided meeting space for creative groups, including the Lake Norman Songwriters Club and Davidson Learns, among others.”
The newly-renovated physical space, with its swag shelves and Christenbery art collection, will further support the ongoing efforts of the OTC team and the many others who share their vision.
“We’re giving people a rallying point,” Warnemunde said. “Like a local sports team, that brings people together across boundaries, we are bringing people together in support of the people, the talent, the contributions that make this community so unique.”
About the contributor:
Christina is a local multimedia content producer and digital strategist. Formerly the editor of CorneliusNews.net, she is thrilled to work with the OTC team to once again help tell the ever-evolving Cornelius story. She lives nearby with her husband, Nate, and a small menagerie of 2- and 4-legged beasties.