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Faces of Franklin: Bethe Smith and Kay OConnell of The Red House
 



The Red House on Third Avenue North has had its fair share of milestone moments since Laura and Ed Hill opened it in 2009, including hosting Keith Urban and John Mayer during a CMT Crossroads episode. But Marketing Director Kay O’Connell says the event venue’s most celebrated guests aren’t rock stars – they are soon-to-be brides and fledgling musicians. 
 
The Hills initially purchased the building so that young bands that found one another at Battle Ground Academy’s annual BGA Jam Camp could play music together after the camp was over. Though the house still serves that purpose, it has also found a niche as an event space for corporate get-togethers, weddings, writing sessions and more. 
 
“Laura is an idea-a-minute kind of person, and she opened this place because she just has a huge heart for kids and teen musicians,” O’Connell said. “Now, we serve so many different purposes. Ed’s a well-known songwriter, and he writes with other acclaimed songwriters here on a regular basis. They wrote the Grammy-nominated song ‘Just Fishin’ right out there on the front porch!”
 
To a Red House passerby, the building appears to be another beautifully refurbished historic home. But this vibrant redbrick encloses an unexpected interior that serves as a multi-functional event venue. The décor is a hodgepodge of modern furniture, original framed records, vintage memorabilia and signed instruments – all items that are juxtaposed against historic walls raised in 1877.
 
O’Connell said that contrast is exactly what the Hills intended. 
 
Several years ago, Laura started The BGA Jam Camp, an advanced music camp for aspiring young musicians with a minimum of two-years’ musical experience. At The Jam, students spend the week collaborating with the bands Laura assigns them: choosing a set list, determining a band name and perfecting their songs. On the last two nights of camp, the students rock the stage – and those closing numbers are what inspired the Hills to open the business. It would give the JAM students a place their bands could play long after the camp was over.
 
“She has a big heart for those who love music and encourages and mentors them with that,” O’Connell said. “Laura wanted them to have a good, safe place to play their music.  But it wasn’t long after we opened that people began stopping to ask if they could use the venue for weddings, corporate meetings, and other events.”
 
Those drop-in guests are often greeted by either Event Coordinator Bethe Smith or by O’Connell, who represent the front-of and back-of house for the Red House. 
 
Smith curates all the happenings – which has included a Halloween-themed wedding in the past – and said the space hosts 85 to 100 events each year. 
 
“People love that is an untraditional venue,” Smith said. “There is something for everyone to relate to here. It is a cool mix of old Southern tradition and laid-back modern rock-and-roll vibes.”
 
Smith said that historic Franklin charm is what leads many people to The Red House.
 
“We really represent Franklin, in the sense that it has a rich past with stories, but also takes a keen interest for the future,” Smith said. “We love being a part of the Jam sessions and other special events like that, and also helping to make people’s happenings special.” 
 
For more information or to inquire about an event, visit their website at www.ourredhouse.com or call Bethe Smith at 615-973-3503.
 

Posted on: 3/7/2013

 
 

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