Southern Stage Renovation at Natural Chimneys for Red Wing Roots Music Festival

A few months ago, our friends at Red Wing Roots Music Festival approached us about renovating their Southern Stage. The stage is the only permanent performance venue at Natural Chimneys Park, but was not designed for a top-notch family friendly music festival. The roof line was too low, the lighting rigs were hard to install, the space was not deep enough, and the there was not enough room for the control booth. We were asked to develop a concept for a new stage that would meet the current demands for their festival.

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We had to learn a lot, and fortunately, the event promoters, Jeremiah and Michael, had all the knowledge we needed. We learned how to optimize lighting, sound, layout, and heights for an improved performance space thanks to these guys because they knew their stuff and were a joy to work with. With every design project, we go through this same phase of learning what our clients know. Listening and learning are a must for quality design work. As an architect, our specialty is building science, proportions, structure, materials…. it is our clients that know the function needed. We just have to be able to take their knowledge and transform it into a design.

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We started with a few concepts and this one seemed to be the right path.

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We worked with Herr & Co. to develop a budget that fit the project. It took a few attempts, as is usually expected. Once we had a path and Blue Ridge Timberwrights joined the team, the design fell into place. Literally, I think we finished the design in about 24 hours after a team conference call. In my opinion, at that point all the hard work was done. However, Venture Builders might have had a different opinion as they are actually the ones building the structure with Blue Ridge Timberwrights. It was taking an entire team of community-minded construction professionals to pull this project off.

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I am looking forward to seeing the finished product in action at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival this year. I cannot wait! Have you gotten your tickets yet?

Here is a photo of Natural Chimneys from the early 1900’s. The photo is from the C. Grattan Price, Jr. Collection.

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Natural Chimneys at Mt. Solon was one of the railroad’s more famous spots to entice passengers from afar. Excursion trains were operated there, just a few hundred yards from the tracks. Note horse and carriage at foot of tower for scale.

Here it is from our site visit to measure the existing stage.

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Natural Chimneys Park and Campground from their website:

It’s hard to imagine, but the Shenandoah Valley was once the floor of a great inland sea. Centuries ago, as that sea receded, the forces of nature carefully etched out an awe-inspiring formation of solid rock. The seven Natural Chimneys tower as much as 120 feet above the pastoral terrain of the Shenandoah Valley, offering onlookers a sight unrivaled in majesty. 

Viewed from one angle, the formations resemble enormous chimneys standing in bleak contrast to the greenery of the Valley. Take a few steps, though, and the chimneys are transformed into the massive turrets of a foreboding medieval castle. 

Natural Chimneys Park in Mt. Solon, Virginia offers more than simply the splendor of towering limestone formations. Both day visitors and those who choose to stay overnight in the seasonal campground find plenty of space and opportunities for recreation, relaxation and fellowship.  The park is open for day use from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.


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