Smile Politely

The future of The Iron Post looks uncertain

The Iron Post, located at 120 S. Race Street in Downtown Urbana, is facing an uncertain future. Sadly, longtime owner and operator Paul Wirth is suffering from a serious medical condition, which will “require long-term intensive health care and therapy” moving forward, putting the future of the venue up in the air. You can read the whole statement below from the Wirth’s GoFundMe page, which has been a space thus far to raise money to keep the venue operating while navigating the pandemic, and after that, this unfortunate situation.

I speak on behalf of all of us at Smile Politely in sending our best regards to the Wirth family at this time, and hope this ultimately raises awareness about the situation and the venue’s future. The Iron Post has served as an absolute staple of the local music and performance scene, hosting everything from jazz to poetry to comedy and beyond for many, many years. We named it in BEST on a few occasions. Up until the pandemic hit, the calendar was constantly full of programming, sometimes seven days a week.

It appears that the venue will eventually be sold in order to cover the costs of the medical expenses accruing, and we will keep you informed if that is indeed the case moving forward. It is unclear whether or not the venue would remain a venue, so that’s to be determined at this point. For now, please read the statement below from the family:

From the GoFundMe page:

Update on the future of The Iron Post – 4/6/2021:
Firstly, we would like to thank everyone for their donations so far. These donations were a major factor in allowing The Post to survive through the winter with any hope of re-opening this spring, as they have helped pay rent, insurance, and other operating expenses that did not go away even while the doors have been closed.

Paul, The Post’s sole owner and operator, had every intention of re-opening this spring. However, in early March he experienced a serious medical event which has made it impossible for him to continue to own and manage The Post going forward, and will in fact require long-term intensive health care and therapy. It is necessary to sell The Post, in one form or another, in order to cover medical expenses and comply with federal medical assistance rules. Paul’s family has been communicating with many members of the community to try to identify possible solutions that would allow for The Post to re-open in some form that would keep its spirit alive. Sadly, we keep discovering new issues that are out of our hands that complicate any efforts to take over The Post (both the name and the location) and it is seeming increasingly unlikely that The Post will be able to re-open at all, even under new management.

We are not asking for additional donations at this time to cover medical costs. You have all already done so much to help both Paul and The Post, but unfortunately the numbers we are dealing with across various debts are so large that it is nigh impossible that any additional donations you all might provide would prevent the sale of Paul and/or The Iron Post’s assets. Times are tough for many right now, and we would prefer that any funds you might want to donate instead be contributed to other efforts that enable and celebrate live music (whether it be jazz, soul, R&B, rock, or classical) in Champaign-Urbana.

Due to the change in circumstances, we totally understand if any of you wish to ask for a refund of your previous donations and are working with GoFundMe to facilitate that. As previously stated, all funds already spent from donations were used to keep The Post alive this long, and any as of yet unspent funds that are not refunded will be used to work towards resolving any outstanding business debts, closing down the business in an orderly manner, and ensuring that the more sentimental assets of The Post are distributed to those who will appreciate them and hopefully use them to create a successor institution some time in the future.

Paul’s family thank you for all of your generosity so far, and we know that this is a blow to the C-U Music community, not just our family. We hope you will honor Paul and The Post by doing everything you can to support live music this spring and summer.

h/t to Tom Ackerman.

Top image by Anna Longworth.

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