Florence Bank Donates $100,000 to the Iron Horse Music Hall

We are excited to announce a $100,000 donation to the Iron Horse Music Hall that will support a $750,000 capital campaign for renovations and updates to the well-loved music venue in downtown Northampton. 

Chris Freeman, executive director of the Parlor Room Collective in Northampton, which purchased the Iron Horse last fall and has been updating it since, says Florence Bank’s gift will help fund ongoing work to the venue at 20 Center St.

The collective has already expanded the Iron Horse into a storefront next door that formerly housed a Christian meeting space, and Chris says it’s in the process of moving the bar into that new space along with 10 bathrooms. The bathrooms in the basement of the venue will be updated and reserved for visiting artists only; the remainder of that downstairs space will be remodeled to be “more artist friendly,” and artists alone will be able to access the area, he says. 

Other work being undertaken at the music hall includes the installation of a new sound system, lighting, flooring and an HVAC unit for cleaner, fresher air. 

“Florence Bank is a big community supporter. They were our first corporate ask,” Chris tells us, noting the Parlor Room Collective is running the capital campaign for the Iron Horse through the bank. “Florence Bank understands our mission, our vision for what the Iron Horse can become. We’re so grateful they stepped up in such a huge way.”

He adds that, when the Parlor Room became a nonprofit, it leaned into Florence Bank for funds to start an open mic series, a program that has since become self-sustainable. “Without that early gift from Florence Bank, we wouldn’t have been able to get it started,” Chris says.

The Parlor Room is a small listening room in Northampton, founded 11 years ago as a facet of the Signature Sounds record label. Chris was a musician in a band that recorded on the Signature Sounds label in those days, becoming more involved with the Parlor Room after the pandemic. In 2022, the Parlor Room became a nonprofit and is now known as the Parlor Room Collective. 

Florence Bank President and CEO Matt Garrity says the Iron Horse has been at the core of the local music scene since its founding in 1979, and the bank is proud to support the Parlor Room Collective’s revival of the venue. “We value the collective’s mission-based approach to the return of the Iron Horse,” says Matt. “The Iron Horse has long been a space in which local patrons and musicians from far and wide can celebrate art, music and community, and we look forward to the return of that energy.”

The Iron Horse is scheduled to reopen May 15 with a performance by Rachael & Vilray, a configuration of friends with sounds that range from an intimate duo to a nine-piece formation, such as on their newest album, “I Love A Love Song.” Taylor Ashton, a Canadian singer songwriter from Brooklyn, will also take the stage in the show from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

“The calendar is filling up for the summer and into the fall,” Chris says. “We’re so thrilled with the response from artists and the excitement about getting the place open.”

The Iron Horse is collaborating with Dave Schrier of Daily Operation of Easthampton for the hall’s food menu and intends to bring back an updated version of the Wicked Wally, a brownie sundae many people might remember from years past. 

The Iron Horse is still seeking donations and sponsorships. To donate, visit IronHorse.org.

“It’s such a fun cause to fundraise for,” Chris says. “So many people have memories about being at the Iron Horse. It’s an amazing spot. We’re incredibly grateful to the bank and the whole community.”

Learn more at ironhorse.org/revive-the-iron-horse.