Northampton’s Parlor Room in talks to buy shuttered Iron Horse Music Hall


Staff Writer

Published: 08-17-2023 6:08 PM

NORTHAMPTON — With the deadline for downtown property magnate Eric Suher to either reopen or sell his long-shuttered music venues a little more than a month away, a prospective buyer has emerged for one of Suher’s most popular clubs.

The Parlor Room, a nonprofit music venue in the city on Masonic Street, has started negotiations to purchase the Iron Horse Music Hall, at 20 Center St. Chris Freeman, president of the Parlor Room Foundation, confirmed the organization’s interest in the Iron Horse, which has been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“We’re a nonprofit, and part of our mission is to enhance the vitality of our community through music,” Freeman said. “The fact there is an opportunity to buy the Iron Horse means of course we are interested.”

Freeman cautioned, however, that negotiations are still in the early stages and there was by no means a guarantee that the Parlor Room would end up owning the Iron Horse venue.

“A lot of people want this open, and we do, too,” he said. “But negotiation takes a long time, and you never know.”

Efforts to reach Suher for comment were unsuccesful.

The Parlor Room switched to a nonprofit model at the beginning of the year, offering music classes, workshops and open mic nights. As a nonprofit, it is also eligible to receive grants to support its efforts.

The Iron Horse was first purchased by Suher in 1995. It had long been a fixture of the local music scene in Northampton, but since its closure other venues such as the Bombyx Center in Florence have tried to fill the void for live music in the city.

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It is unknown how any new ownership might affect the Iron Horse, which unlike the Parlor Room sold food and alcohol as part of its business model. Freeman declined to comment further on the matter, saying he didn’t want to say too much prematurely.

The announcement comes as the deadline for Suher to sell the Iron Horse, along with four other properties he owns across Northampton, is fast approaching.

Suher reached an agreement with the Northampton License Commission back in May to either sell or reopen five downtown entertainment venues he owns that have long been dormant, some since even before the pandemic. The five venues are the Iron Horse, Pearl Street Nightclub, The Green Room, the Basement and the Calvin Theatre. Failure to do so will result in the revocation of the liquor licenses held by each business.

Furthermore, the agreement requires any third party or Suher to have a certain level of activity at each venue in order for its alcohol license to be deemed fully exercised. The deadline for the agreement is Sept. 29.

Pearl Street and the Iron Horse have been closed since March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Iron Horse at one point had shows booked to return to the location in 2021, although those plans fell through.

The License Commission had voted to revoke Suher’s all-alcohol license for Pearl Street in February. At that time, the commission also gave Suher until June to reopen two other venues, the Green Room and the Iron Horse, or their licenses also would be revoked.

Suher appealed the revocation to the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, but a scheduled hearing was canceled after Suher and the city License Commission reached their agreement.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at