Private social club to open this spring in downtown Charlottesville
Members must be over 21, initiation fee for Common House set at $600
A private social club on West Market Street in downtown Charlottesville is set to open this spring, following years of renovations to the former site of the Mentor Lodge, which served as a social hub for the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Vinegar Hill for over 60 years.
The club will be called Common House, and after renovations to the site, it will be located in a sprawling 7,000 square-foot building, which will include features such as a library, lounge, co-work space and a rooftop terrace for its members.
“We fell in love with the soul of this particular building, and we labored with love to give it new life,” said Josh Rogers, one of three cofounders of Common House.
The initiation fee to be a member currently starts at $600 per person and $1,000 per couple, with fixed monthly dues of $150 and $225, respectively. Applicants will be evaluated monthly by a membership committee comprised of an alternating group of current members, who will make recommendations based on the club’s objective to broaden and diversify its creative community.
The idea behind the club was developed after Rogers and two other University graduates — Derek Sieg and Ben Pfinsgraff — recognized the need for a space where individuals who also shared their passion for creative, entrepreneurial pursuits could come together in a stimulating environment over food and drink.
As a result, all three decided to withdraw from their city-dwelling lives and return to Charlottesville in order to create a place where new relationships and ideas could be forged in order to unite and move the local community forward.
“We expect Common House to be a home away from home to unite individuals across diverse creative communities, including artists, authors, entrepreneurs, educators, musicians, scientists and more,” Rogers said.
Some of the facility’s unique programming will include a “Common Knowledge” series, which will give members a platform to showcase their skills, ranging from how to craft brew delicious beer to participating in readings by bestselling authors, as well as stripped-down musical performances known as Bridge Room Sessions.
Rogers said he envisions part of Common House’s role is to break down barriers that exist in both Charlottesville and other communities.
“We clearly state that as our intent, and it’s attracted a wide array of members in every measurable way — age, race, gender, sexuality, religion and socio-economic status,” he said.
Technology is viewed at Common House as one such barrier to genuine human connection, and thus members will be asked to refrain from using their cellphones and laptops.
As an alumnus himself, Rogers said he understands the integral role the University plays in the greater Charlottesville community.
“We’d love to have a close relationship with the U.Va. community,” Rogers said. “Any faculty and students who are at least 21 are welcome to apply for membership.”