This Cat Fort Is Epic - No, But Seriously
Meet Phillip Rhodes, creator and founder of The Epic Cat Fort. Yes, this is a real thing, and it's happening - soon! Read on for more info and if you're in the Pittsburgh, PA area, go attend the grand opening on March 10, 2017!
Phillip Rhodes is our kind of guy. The man purchases an historic abandoned church, and out of the endless possibilities for its revival, he decides to go the route of "EPIC CAT FORT." And this fort is aiming to be just that - St. Clement Church in Tarentum, PA, has over 43,000 square feet of empty space and Phillip says the fort will be "over 80 feet long, 30 feet wide, and as tall as we can safely make it."
The fort will be constructed by community artists, each contributing a 4'x4' area of the fort using cardboard and paper mâché. There is a call out for artists, builders, and general volunteers on their website. The project will be geared toward creating a community space that will eventually be used as an event space, co-working space, and offices for local businesses.
We spoke with Phillip Rhodes about how the HELL this came to be.
Q: To start, where did you get this idea? Why an "epic cat fort"?
A: The "Epic Cat Fort" came about in a fit of brainstorming/daydreaming/euphoria when I was exploring a former church and school. This former church and school is named St. Clements. It's located in Tarentum, Pennsylvania. It's a big building... I love cats.. love building things...
Q: Do you have cats of your own? Will they be able to test out the fort?
A: I don't have any kitties now. I am still getting over the loss of Huckle, our 23 year old cat. Huckle was named after the cat in Richard Scarry's book. Huckle looked just like his namesake. He was a good wonderful cat! While I know that I will have at least one cat in my future, my son has two cats and I get some cat-time whenever I visit him. They will definitely be part of the fort and will get to have their own special pre-opening screening!
Q: What will you do with the fort after the opening? Or will you leave it up as its own attraction?
A: After the cat fort opens, we will leave it open as long as there is interest. My ultimate goal would be for the cat fort to be disassembled and put on tour around the country. I would love to see a mall like South Hills Village want to host it for a while. It would bring people to the mall, encourage adoption for cats and ... get us out of our homes to interact with each other and some kitties.
Q: I see "participate as an artist" on your website - can you explain this a little more?
A: The cat fort is actually going to consist of several different sections, so I imagine that there will be several different styles of design that will be part of it. To participate as an artist can consist of designing a section of the cat fort and/or putting together a section of it.
Q: What is your vision for the fort / event space long term? Do you plan on keeping cats as part of that vision?
A: The cat fort will consists of several cat forts that will be connected via tubes/tunnels and "cat walks" that will keep all the different sections interconnected. Long term, I hope the cat fort can go on tour and go to malls and other venues in the USA. Where it goes on tour, I would hope to bring together artists and cats and encourage adoption. I do want to have a few cats in our church and school as their permanent home.