By Bill Lauterbach
It is always considered an honor by The Exponent to recognize and interview truly unique and interesting businesses that have recently cropped up in the area. And “Forty Nine South” is no exception. This family endeavor off South Street in Jackson combines business savvy with a touch of Jackson County history.
Before delving into the many facets of “Forty Nine South,” allow us to give you a background of the ownership. The primary owners of “Forty Nine South” are Kim and Barb Dagenais. Co-proprietors are Chad Schedeler and wife Brie Dagenais. Schedeler is involved in public relations while Dagenais is a local veterinarian. Co-proprietors Ryan and Danielle Agnello are also on board. Ryan is a local carpenter and Danielle is a Jackson area school teacher. Together, they all run “Forty Nine South.”
As its website (see the end of story) says, the old school is now a gathering space, for both small and large. A one-of-a-kind facility with retro appeal, it is perfect for any event. And just what is that retro appeal?
Schedeler explains, “The building was originally constructed in 1949. As we were getting into the building, we found a set of original plans dated 1949. It was originally called ‘The South School.’ So that is where the name ‘Forty Nine South’ came from. Shortly after that, we learned that it was renamed ‘Honer Elementary School’ and served as an elementary school until sometime in the 1980s. Sometime shortly after that, the Jackson chapter of the Masons took over the building as their lodge, until a few years back when they consolidated with another chapter. That is when we took over the building and our attempt was to restore the place and bring back some of the original charms of the school building while putting something back into the community that was needed and [the community] would get some use from.”
So, what exactly is “Forty Nine South?”
Schedeler responds, “I would say it is a ‘mix use’ event and entertainment venue. Forty Nine South is geared towards large and small events, a lot of weddings, corporate events, and training workshops. Events are our primary business and then it is also a home to a couple of other local businesses – Premier Properties being one of those – a real estate brokerage.
Schedeler took us into a room that housed a business called “The District” – which is structured as a co-working space for remote, home-based, or entrepreneur-type businesses that are looking for a space with office amenities they can rent on a monthly membership basis. Those amenities include meeting rooms, mailing addresses with mailboxes, Wi-Fi, projection screens, chalk and whiteboards, printing capability, kitchenettes, and coffee bars.
We heard rumors that “Forty Nine South” had a virtual indoor golf course. Schedeler confirmed those rumors.
“That’s true,” he said. “It’s called ‘Bogey and Birdies’ and it is an indoor golf facility. It’s open by appointment; we set up tee times. And you can reserve that space by the hour. It’s for groups or individuals. We have two different golf bays; up to a foursome can play on each bay.” They also have a snack bar along with beverages of all types and flavors.
Forty Nine South is available for events year-round.
“We do events all year long, even during the holiday season,” said Schedeler. “We have really gotten the word out publicly beginning this past January and started promoting this place as a wedding venue. We’ve played host to a number of corporate parties and do fundraising events for several local charities. We also do smaller events, too. We’ve got what we call, a ‘community room’ with seating up to 30 or 40. It is nice for smaller groups or corporate training. We’ve hosted rehearsal dinners, baby showers, anniversary parties, birthday parties, and are doing a number of graduation open houses this summer. We don’t do our own catering, but we work with a lot of local caterers in case you need assistance in locating one for your particular event.”
We asked Schedeler if he had any new entrepreneurial ideas for the future. “We are continuing to evolve and adapt to meet the community’s needs,” he said.“We’ve got a room at the end of the hall that is unused and unplanned at the moment. But it is another large room. And we’ve toyed with the idea of finishing that off and opening it up to be able to host larger events and serve expo-type [events].”
One of the most fascinating aspects regarding Forty Nine South is how the owners have kept the school theme alive. They have beautifully blended it together with the concepts and purposes of the various meeting places and venues inside the former school building. Old school maps are present in the hallways, lockers have been retained and are usable for certain events, and display cases feature vintage items from bygone school days. One of the most beautiful rooms is called “The Wedding Room.” This room is reserved for the bride and her bride’s maids; either for a wedding performed on the premises and/or for the reception to follow. It is beautifully decorated and accessorized with all the necessities needed for the bridal party.
Forty Nine South has a great slogan printed on their business card; “Work. Play. Shop. Celebrate.” That pretty much sums up all the things that are possible at Forty Nine South. For further information, give Chad Schedeler a call at 248-420-1055 or visit their website at www.fortyninesouth.com. You may also pay a visit to Forty Nine South at 2527 Helena Ave. in Jackson.