Common House

Common House, a member-based social club and event space, is expected to open in May in the Market Street site of the former Mentor Lodge, one of the city’s first social clubs that for decades served the African-American population in town.

They’ve raised the roof, fixed the walls, refurbished the building and they’re ready for members.

Common House, a member-based social club and event space, is expected to open in May in the Market Street site of the former Mentor Lodge, one of the city’s first social clubs that for decades served the African-American population in town.

The site will provide space to relax, talk, meet, dine and listen to music both live and recorded, club officials said.

The club’s most recent incarnation has been in the planning stage for a couple of years but hit a setback last winter when wet snow caused a partial roof collapse at the 206 W. Market St. space, built in 1913.

“We did have quite a time with our roof that collapsed last year,” admitted Josh Rogers, cofounder and chief brand officer. “If anything, that renewed our focus and passion to bring the building back to its rightful social place.”

Rogers said an attempt was made to reuse as much of the building as possible.

 “We didn’t make it easy on ourselves,” he said. “[We salvaged] hardware and reused our antique joists and sheathing as floors. But, we wouldn’t have done it any other way, and we’re on track to open in May.”

Rogers, Derek Sieg and Ben Pfinsgraff, all University of Virginia graduates, came together to create Common House based on the historical role of social clubs, club officials said.

“In larger markets, contemporary social clubs are definitely a thing,” Rogers said. “People aren’t so different here relative to bigger cities like New York or Chicago or Los Angeles or San Francisco — places we’ve also lived.”

Common House members will access the club using individual brass keys, the club’s website states. The first floor features Vinegar Hall, which acts as a co-work space for members during the day and a rentable venue for the community by night. The main level also includes full-menu food service.

Plans for the second floor, accessed by a floating oak staircase, include the Social Hall, an open central space anchored by a prominent hearth with seating and bar service, plus a tea room with coffee station.

The Bridge Room offers space for games of bridge, chess, backgammon or even Chickapig, with bar service available.

A library and billiard room also are available on the second floor and a 2,000-square-foot roof terrace is planned, the website states.

“These days, especially for our members, there’s somewhat of a marriage between work and life, so we expect quite a bit of work to occur at Common House,” Rogers said. “But we do have rules about technology to preserve the humanity of the experience.”

Rogers said he and his partners hope Common House can spark creativity and bring people together.

“We’re from Charlottesville, and we love this town and its people,” he said. “We see the possibility of an even more progressive, productive hometown, and we’re just trying to do our little part by uniting the diverse group of like-minded people already making a difference.”

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Bryan McKenzie is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7271, bmckenzie@dailyprogress.com or @BK_McKenzie on Twitter.

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