The House put up for sale, future of venue uncertain


Full of art and music, The House, 263 E. Lincoln Highway, has provided a place for students to gather since 2000 when the business began. In 2005, the location became a music venue, hosting shows and opens mics regularly.

By Peter Zemeske

DeKALB — The future of The House music venue hangs in the air as the owner of the property has put the building up for sale.

Property owner Fareed Haque has listed the building, located at 263 E. Lincoln Highway, for sale at $549,900 as a result of his desire to move out of DeKalb.

Haque, who teaches guitar performance at NIU, purchased the building in 2005, five years after The House Café originally opened. He said he has offered the building to current business owner Mark Robinson at a discounted rate in an effort to meet Robinson halfway.

“I’ve worked hard to keep the House Café alive, and I’m not saying [Robinson] hasn’t, but we all work together, and I’ve done my part,” Haque said.

Robinson, who has owned the business with his wife since September 2016, said he hoped to purchase the building from Haque but is financially unable to do so. Regardless of the sale of the land, Robinson said he is looking to close the doors to The House because he fears he will see an increase in rent. He said he is unable to sustain running costs without owning the building and plans to close its doors May 1.

Haque said there are people interested in the building, but he is trying to help Robinson, a former music student at NIU, keep the business alive. He said he has no intention of kicking Robinson out.

Robinson hinted at a new project he’s working on with a brewing company, but said he would not disclose additional information. He said the project will be similar to The House in that it will provide food, drinks and music. He said they’re discussing viability of the collaboration, and the earliest more details will be available is August 2020.

The House has been home to many local musical acts and as rumor spread of its potential closing, those who called the venue a home responded.

Brendan Markwood, lead guitarist of INPO, played his first show at The House in January and said the venue instantly became a memorable one for him.

He said the atmosphere at the venue was unique, and he and his bandmates are grateful to have performed there.

“I think it’s really sad The House is closing down because it’s an awesome place for all of the college kids to go hear bands they’ve never heard before,” Markwood said. “It’s so important for the community to have something like that to thrive, and the House really brought people together.”

Senior communication major Sam Heth said said some of favorite memories are at The House.

He said of those memories, some of his fondest ones include the monthly salsa nights which he attended regularly.

Heth said the community will miss the venue.

“It’s one of the few outlets for artistic expression left in DeKalb,” Heth said. “We’re already kind of limited; having our own music venue was kind of putting us on the map in certain respects. To lose that is a step in the wrong direction.”

Reflecting on his favorite aspects of owning The House, Robinson said working with bands and running the sound board were among his top memories.

Providing an artistic outlet was also revered in Robinson’s heart. He cited Lung, a two-piece band from Cincinnati, Ohio, as his favorite band to grace The House’s stage out of the many that have performed there over the years.

“[I love] being able to provide something for the community that people really enjoy, and I think it’s healthy for our society to have things like that [and] places for people to go and express themselves,” Robinson said.

Zack Baumgartner, lead vocalist and lead guitarist of pop-punk band When the Sun Sets, has performed on stage at The House several times over the course of his long musical career.

Baumgartner has played at The House as a solo acoustic act and with his band. In their most recent show at the venue, the band shared the stage with the indie-rock band Vinyl Theatre.

“The House has always been such an amazing venue to us,” Baumgartner said. “The vibe is unbeatable, and everybody is there to support local business and bands from all over the world. I am so sad to see one of the industry’s biggest hidden treasures vanish.”

Additional contributions made by Editor-in-Chief Sam Malone.