This story actually starts in 1977. I started a clogging team: The Strawberry Cloggers. At the time, Chadbourn hosted the largest agricultural festival in North Carolina, The NC Strawberry Festival. It began in the early 1900's as Chadbourn was "The Strawberry Capitol of The World" (though Chadbourn has not been a major strawberry market for many years.) That began what would become my career as a professional entertainer and I have Chadbourn and her good people to thank for my start.
I became a popular MC and radio personality in the area. I was busy as an entertainer could be... in the area.
Years later, I would move away from Chadbourn to pursue my career, because there just wasn't enough "entertainment work" around.
I would come home often to visit family and friends But in 1991 I came home to my 10 year high school class reunion to hear from the locals that Chadbourn was in a major decline. The tobacco market was on its way out, business owners had closed up shop and the downtown area was becoming an eyesore. Many businesses had closed and been boarded up.
Crime took over the small town to a horrifying level. Every time I went home, I would drive through downtown and my heart would just break. Like many of the locals, I accepted this as a fact of life and continued to watch as it continued to crumble. Yet, the Strawberry Festival persevered. Eventually, it would start to decline year by year as community organizations started to fade away and volunteerism dwindled as well. Aside from the Covid situation, The Strawberry Festival is still hanging on.
In the meantime, my career had worked out very well for me. Though I am not internationally, or even nationally famous, I've done well as an entertainer, talent agent, and special events producer.
Around 2015, I noticed there was some movement in Chadbourn going on. It evolved around The Chadbourn Depot Museum. I wanted to participate and help, but I now believe it was too early in the "revitalization game" to be of any real value. The crime level started to decrease noticeably and is getting better year after year.
Move up to the year 2020. Covid-19 hits BIG TIME. The entertainment industry screeches to a complete standstill! My income as well as my "creative outlets" vanish! What am I to do? (I know....THE DRAMA! LOL!) I was driving myself (and my wife) crazy...looking for things to do. I NEEDED something!
Well, upon the suggestion of a lifelong friend in Chadbourn, I inquire about purchasing what I knew as the old "Dixie Farm Supply" store. It was being used as storage by what turned out to be....my first cousin (once removed) and her husband. I called them right away and inquired if the building was for sale. We quickly came to an arrangement and 4 weeks later, I was a property owner in the VERY heart of downtown Chadbourn. Of course, it needed work. A LOT of work.
-------SIDE NOTE: My wife was caught off guard by my new project. But her immediate response was "Ever since I met you in 1984, I've known you have ALWAYS wanted to own a special events hall in your hometown. Let me think about this."---------
As you know, she came around fairly quickly.
We were in the middle of the pandemic, but I made the announcement on Facebook that I had purchased the building and was going to renovate it to be a special events and performance hall.
IMMEDIATELY, I started getting phone calls, emails and Facebook messages of support. There was a TON of excitement. I had friends from all over volunteering to help me get the building up to par. Some offered their homes to stay in while we were there renovating, while others offered their services for either free or for "Trade outs" (which I'm all about!) Some came all the way from Florida and Tennessee to build and repair several things that needed upgrading.
I've had locals and those who have never heard of Chadbourn before to send cash donations to help with the refurbishment. It was really overwhelming in a very good way.
I am not monetarily wealthy by any means. However, if I were to measure my wealth by the outpouring of love, support and literal manual labor I've received, I would give Midas a run for his money!
I cannot count how many times I've heard "I'm as excited about this project as if it were mine".
January 2021/ I moved forward in a very exciting way. This was the time of "red tape" to get the building up to code and ready to pass a building inspection. The roof of the "lobby" was in need of repair (for some minor leaks) but was do-able, that was done the first part of February 2021.
I've spent the money that had been raised, but I saw the bright light at the end of the tunnel.
I was hoping to be open by May of 2021...but that did not happen.
Update: BROWN STREET STATION IS NOW OPEN!
Downtown Chadbourn is on its way. Crime is way down. Parking for downtown is happening now! Soon, it will be a place of immense pride. There are THOUSANDS of cars driving through Chadbourn on the way to Myrtle Beach looking for a place to stop for gas, restrooms, information and recreation. They have been coming through for YEARS!
Brown Street Station's goals are to provide everyone with a place to stop for most all of that. But MAINLY, it's going to be a place of entertainment, excitement, education, and fun!
I am now offering and presenting (but not limited to) the following...
-After school programs (Free and some that require a fee)
-Performance coaching/classes (Free and some that require a fee)
-Rental space for events
-Family Health Fairs
-Musical Workshops and Jams
-Special Events for Most Every Holiday
-Base Station for The Strawberry Festival
-Summer Camps (Paid and Free)
...and much more!
Please stay tuned for updates and feel free to "share" my story.
All the best,
Greg M Thompson/Proprietor
BROWN STREET STATION
(Though I currently live in Winter Garden, Florida)