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The Mulehouse Has Them Coming to Columbia

In an indirect way, The Mulehouse in downtown Columbia owes its existence to a fictional Iowa cornfield.

“We built The Mulehouse without excuse and spared no expense,” says owner Blair Garner. “Much like Field of Dreams, we felt that if you build it, they will come.”

And after a seven million dollar renovation, patrons have been lining up to see name brand acts in the former First Baptist Church. Since its May of 2021 opening, The Mulehouse has hosted more than 50 public shows with 17 sellouts, and more than 150 private events. Notable performers have included Pistol Annies, Amy Grant, Lee Brice and Tyler Farr.

Garner’s mission, for patrons and performers, is “to provide an experience that is so deep and so rich that it becomes a memory. People will go where they feel welcome and appreciated and they will want to return. Shortcuts never win.”

The “no shortcuts” rule applies to The Mulehouse’s technology. According to Garner, who is best known for his work as an acclaimed country music disc jockey, it is the first venue in America to be built around livestreaming and one of only two (Radio City Music Hall in New York is the other) that’s entirely 4K video resolution. “We can serve music fans whether they are here in person or living in Norway,” he says. “And the building is prewired for 8K so when that technology comes, we’re ready for a plug-and-play transition.”

The venue, which can accommodate up to 500 is a far cry from what Garner found when he acquired the building. The old church had been overrun by mold and it was home to many wild and stray animals. There were local conversations about leveling the structure and starting over. “For those in the community, it became painful to see a beloved building fall into disrepair,” he
says. But in a short time, Garner, along with his husband, Eric, have turned it into a local treasure.

“I’m the visionary, the one who believes anything is possible,” says Blair. “Eric is the numbers guy, analytical and pragmatic. He takes my vision and puts it into practical terms by which it can be achieved at a consistent level of quality. It’s important for us to crawl before we run.”

Currently The Mulehouse occupies about half of the structure’s 55,000 square feet. According to Garner, the next steps include building-out that space with a boutique hotel and restaurant. Not if, but when that happens, perhaps in the next year, he says it will be with partners who adhere to the same standards as the Garners.

Show Calendar

Friday 2 End Of The Line: An Allman Brothers Tribute Band
Thursday 22 Songteller: The Music of Reba with Liz Hengber and Will Robinson
Friday 23 Eaglemaniacs
Friday 30 Jeff Allen

Thursday 13 Sister Hazel
Thursday 20 Storytellers: 90’s Country with Victoria Shaw, Gary Burr and Bob DiPiero November
Friday 4 Jon McLaughlin


  • Owner Blair Garner