The Ruin Bar: Breathing New Life into Our Historic Arts Scene
Fort Wayne has a new live music venue, and musicians and music fans who are looking for a great, relaxed atmosphere are going to love it. The Ruin Bar is the newest addition to the healthy, vibrant, and growing arts scene in our beloved hometown.
As a former employee of The Berlin, Cassie Ledbetter, owner of The Ruin, knows the Fort Wayne bar scene well. But, as a Nashville transplant, and having spent the last several years on the road furthering an archeology career, she definitely took the long way around to decide on landing in our backyard.
“I love Nashville, but it’s incredibly expensive and incredibly gentrified. So I could move back to Nashville and [struggle] working some dead-end job, or I could move to Fort Wayne where I could live more affordable. And I was young here, so it’s the city I feel the most connected to.”
I for one am glad she came back to our corner of Indiana. You might recognize the location of The Ruin Bar as the former Skeletunes Lounge. But step inside and you’ll experience something brand new and unique to our area. By stripping the building down to the bare brick walls, removing the lowered ceiling, and giving the bar a good scrub, it’s become an incredibly welcoming establishment that is as enticing for local rock bands as it is a perfect spot for a date night.
“It’s a historic building. It’s one of the oldest bars in Fort Wayne, and it has a lot of history before that even. I even have one of the five original liquor licenses in the city,” Cassie pointed out. “So I thought it was important to capture that.”
And Cassie wants to fill those historic walls with a part of Nashville’s active and diverse music and arts scen. Only a few weeks old, The Ruin is already showing its commitment to genres and artists that might have a hard time finding a home in other venues. Genre’s such as surf rock, jazz, instrumental prog, live DJs, and karaoke are all gracing the bar’s comfortable stage to great response. And she’s even looking to begin offering earlier, post-workday performances for those wanting to enjoy live music at an earlier hour.
“I like quality, but different music,” she said. “Fort Wayne might not be quite big enough to have venues dedicated to specific scenes, but we want to be a place that's dedicated to the weird stuff. We want to really cultivate a quality following based on those artists.”
The Ruin Bar isn’t only a great place to catch Fort Wayne’s latest and greatest artists. It’s also a comfortably relaxed hang that places a great emphasis on community. Whether you’re stopping by for a drink after work, catching a show, or just out for a night with a loved one, Cassie says that she looks forward to getting to know you and is glad you’re there.
“What people really want is to know their bartender by name and talk to them. And I want to be able to offer that, while still remaining an affordable, neighborhood bar.”
If you were a diehard of Skeletunes, I’m not sure what to tell ya. The Ruin Bar is different. But if you are an open-minded music fan who wants a comfortable hang, you can’t go wrong here. And, as an active musician in the Fort Wayne scene myself, I’m glad Cassie has come back to our community and brought her dream along with her.
“I think Fort Wayne needs a couple of smaller venues like this. And this is the bar that, because of its music venue history, and because of its location, is the bar to fill that need.”