by Jeremy Morrison
A short walk from the railroad tracks sits 309 N 6th Ave., an old two-story with a big front porch. For years, the house has served Pensacola’s punk community as a sort of communal hub. The venue has helped foster a scene and allowed for artistic cross pollination.
Residents have included a revolving cast of local musicians and artists. Celebrated photographer Mike Brodie embarked on his career from the house’s front porch. The house was featured in the book “Punk House: Interiors in Anarchy.”
Now, some former residents are looking to established the house as a museum, celebrating Pensacola’s punk culture, as well as its relationship to the larger, national punk culture.
“Think about it in the 80s-sense, 70s, 80s, even up to the early 90s, none of this stuff was really played on the radio very often, so the only way that punk could travel was almost like on the old Vaudeville circuit, you know, DIY, DIY-venues. And venues could be small clubs, or they could be in people’s houses. 309 eventually became one of those hubs,” explained Christoper Satterwhite.
These days, Satterwhite is a professor of English at the University of West Florida. But once upon a time he lived at 309, and sees the house as essential to a decades-long local punk scene.
Satterwhite recalls how the house would serve as a gathering place, a place for passer-throughs to stay, a place for traveling musicians to sleep, a place for band practicing and zine publishing.
Recently, Satterwhite and another former resident, Terry Johnson — owner of Sluggo’s and member of the band This Bike is a Pipe Bomb — hit upon the concept of establishing the house as a museum. They’d like to purchase the property from their old landlords and transform it into a museum, while also maintaining it as an artistic residence.
“It’s a bit of a long-term project,” Satterwhite said.
A Go Fund Me campaign has been launched for the project, with the initial goal of raising enough money to establish a non-profit. That $2,000 goal is already within sight, and a benefit concert on March 9 will likely push it over the top.
Satterwhite said he thinks establishing the effort as a non-profit will make people feel more comfortable donating to the project, as well as enabling the group to apply for grants. He also sees that direction in line with a punk-tinged ethos.
“We can have a board with an idea of things we want to do with the house, so it’s not just Terry and me who are trying to think of all these different ideas and then everybody rush on our ideas,” Satterwhite said. “Just because the house itself is communal, I don’t want to turn the 309 museum project into a dictatorship. I want it to be broader, to include different voices in the community. People that live here, maybe people that don’t live here anymore but are still part of this community.”
The early-version vision of a punk museum at 309 includes a downstairs devoted to exhibits featuring the region’s punk history, and also its national ties. The upstairs would be reserved for a live-in curator, as well as a revolving writer-in-residence.
The house might also continue to play host to bands passing through town. And maybe there’ll be a recording studio.
“So, instead of it just being like a sterile museum it’d actually be something that’d be active,” Satterwhite said.
If realized, Pensacola’s punk museum would stand in contrast to the area’s other celebrations of history. It would feature a slice of local culture that might otherwise go unnoticed or unacknowledged.
“I think it would be really interesting if we preserved a lot more counter culture within this city and didn’t overlook it. If you pick up the historic Pensacola books it’s all pictures of businessmen, or railroad magnates or Civil War generals or that kind of stuff, but what about the average folks?” Satterwhite asked. “What about the people who actually make Pensacola interesting? You know, business people, they do in their own ways, but they’ll get their own history or record books and they’ll get their own statues. But there’s nothing for the average person.”
To learn more about the 309 Punk Museum Project, click here.
For the project’s Go Fund Me campaign, click here.
The benefit concert for the 309 project will be held at Chizuko’s, March 9, beginning at 9:30 p.m. The concert features Rezolve, Company of Ghosts, DFM, EKS and Kent Stanton.