Creating a ‘Living Museum’ of Pensacola’s Punk Community


Hansen Hasenberg, Writer

Back in 2016, the owners of 309 N 6th Avenue in Downtown Pensacola were looking to sell their property. This would not be much of a story but for what that property means to several generations of local punks.

The house that stood at that address, and still stands there, is one of the longest surviving punk houses in the United States. 

A punk house is a dwelling occupied by members of the Punk subculture. It also can serve as a space for travelling bands to sleep and as a practicing space.

The house, colloquially known as the “309 house” or just “309,” has been continually used as a punk house for the past 40 years or so. 

309 has many tenants over the years including Scott Satterwhite, a professor at UWF in the English department. 

Satterwhite, who came to Pensacola during his time in the US Navy, was involved in the local punk scene from the 1990s onward. He lived at 309 from around 1999 to 2007.

Around the time that the owners of 309 were talking about selling, Satterwhite was approached by friend and fellow punk Terry Johnson about the possibility of collectively purchasing the house and turning it into a museum. 

Johnson, who was a member of the punk band This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb and owner of Sluggo’s, soon moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

While Johnson moved away from Pensacola, her idea for what to do with the house stuck with Satterwhite and other Pensacola punks. 

For the 309 Punks, the house was the “centerpiece of the Punk community,” and they didn’t want it to fall into the wrong hands.

Satterwhite, along with fellow punks Eliza Espy and Valerie George, decided to move towards turning Johnson’s idea into reality.

At this point, not too many people outside the Punk community knew about the house and even fewer knew of its significance in Pensacola’s cultural history.

Around the same time, a student at UWF was looking to complete his master’s and decided to do his thesis on the local punk scene. 

Ian Hamilton, who went to UWF for both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, then created a documentary that would serve as his thesis project.

According to Hamilton, the reason he chose the subject was because it had not been covered much.

“I really wanted underrepresented groups to be recognized,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton interviewed Satterwhite and many other members of the scene, even traveling to Jacksonville to speak with a former venue owner.

After graduating, Hamilton moved with his wife to Massachusetts.

After the “Pensacola Punks” documentary, local news started to report about the Punks’ efforts to buy the house and create a museum. 

This in turn got the attention of the people at the T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum.

They were interested in capturing this aspect of Pensacola’s history in an exhibit at the museum, which sits across the street from Plaza Ferdinand VII.

As Satterwhite recalls, the Wentworth Museum initially was going to do the exhibit themselves, but after realizing they weren’t all that familiar with the punk scene, they brought in the Punks.

The Punks, with the assistance of the Wentworth staff, created their exhibit which centered on 309 but featured other parts the local scene as well.

The exhibit, called “Punksacola: Reflections of a subculture,” opened on July 20, 2018. It closed a year later.

Things that were on display during the run of the exhibit were flyers for concerts, newspaper clippings that talked about bands, artwork, and photos, just to name a few things.

The exhibit was kicked off with performances from local Punk acts like Rezolve and Kent Stanton, one the scene’s most prominent figures.

Despite the press attention and the museum exhibit, the Punks had yet to buy the house.

“The owners basically told us to have the money by the end of the month or they would have to start looking for potential buyers,” said Satterwhite.

To come up with the money, the 309 Punks started fundraisers via GoFundMe. They got enough for a down payment on the house, but Satterwhite had to purchase the house to get a mortgage due to the funds from GoFundMe being untraceable. 


After the house was purchased, the next step was to renovate.

According to, the house was built circa 1913.

With that many years of wear and tear from storms, termites, and more than a few punks, the need for an update was bound to happen. 

Despite the fact the house looks alright from the outside, it needed a lot of work to come up to code.

“The person inspecting the house told us,” said Satterwhite, “that 309 failed five points on a four-point inspection.”

In other words, the house was going to fall apart if something wasn’t done to seriously fix it.

With that much work, the renovations would take over a year to complete.

The house needed all new plumbing, electricity, and an air conditioning system, which 309 had never had. Satterwhite said the winters were “freezing cold” and the summers nearly “unbearable” during his time there.

Satterwhite stayed at 309 for part of the time the renovations were being done per his mortgage agreement.

The renovations were set to be done by the mid part of 2020 and the house turned museum would soon be opened. Of course, this isn’t exactly how it went down.

2020 brought COVID-19, which shut down the entire world for some time, including Pensacola. Then Hurricane Sally came to the Gulf Coast, wrecking parts of Escambia County, Florida and Baldwin County, Alabama.

309 sustained some damage from the storm and some more renovations, to areas like the roof, had to be done.

On top of updating the house to contemporary standards, the crew who worked on the house also created space for a recording studio. This studio is just part of what Satterwhite, and the others want to do with the house.

The Making of a Museum

On top of making the house a museum, the Punks are going to have an archive of various resources including posters, albums, and oral histories.

The materials for the archive were gathered mostly through donations. 

The oral histories were done by Satterwhite and by UWF students in Dr. Jamin Wells’ Oral and Community History class. People who lived at the house or were associated with it in some way were interviewed.

In addition to an archive and recording studio, the 309 Punk Project is going to have an artist in residence at the house. 

According to Satterwhite, the artist will be given full creative freedom and will probably get to showcase their art at the house sometime in the future.

For the 309 Punk Project, the goal has shifted from just making a museum out of the house. They want to make a “living museum.”

In other words, they want the project to not only capture the spirit of 309 but to continue it into the future. 

For Satterwhite, this involved asking himself how they were going to reflect the D-I-Y aspects of Punk in what they do.

“We had to ask ourselves: How can we reflect do it yourself in as radically inclusive a framework as we can?” said Satterwhite.

Basically, those involved with the 309 Punk Project wanted to know not only how a museum was made but how to make it as true to Punk and reflect the diversity that exists within the Punk subculture.

They got some idea of how to do that from a conference on archiving punk. The conference, which took place in 2018, was called “Curating Resistance: Punk as an Archival Method.”

In addition to gaining information on how to put together a museum, the members of the 309 Punk Project were able to see that it could be done. 

“We needed examples of how museums functioned as an institution,” said Satterwhite. “But also, how D-I-Y spaces functioned as their own institutions.”

The 309 Punk Project wanted their museum to be its own entity, not beholden to anybody or anything and therefore they didn’t want an organization like the UWF Historic Trust to take over.

Given the independent spirit of Punk, this isn’t too hard to understand.

The museum is not officially open yet, but when it does open it will be one of only a few freestanding museums dedicated entirely to Punk in the world. 

More Than a House

The 309 House has become a cultural landmark in Pensacola in just the past few years, but its impact has been felt by Pensacola and its residents since before most of them had even heard of it.

Those who have lived in the house at one point or another, have gone on to accomplish many things both in the City of Five Flags and beyond.

Jen Knight, who spent many of her formative years in the Punk scene, has become one of Pensacola’s more recognizable restaurateurs. She owns End Of The Line Café at 610 East Wright Street, where she serves a variety of vegan food and drink.

David Dondero, a musician who spent time in the scene in the 1990s, has gone on to become a preeminent figure in indie folk music and an inspiration to artists like Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. Dondero was named by NPR’s “All Things Considered” as one of the best living songwriters of all time in 2006.

Valerie George has had many of her sculptures and artworks shown in various galleries across the United States. George also teaches at UWF.

Kent Stanton, who passed away in April 2020, was one of the more well-known Punks in the area and lead punk bands like The Unemployed, which opened for a variety of touring acts that came through Pensacola.

There are many, many more Punks who have made significant contributions to Pensacola and to 309’s legacy. 

The legacy of 309 is not just going to be on display in a museum, it will also be on bookshelves.

Scott Satterwhite and Aaron Cometbus, the famous zine writer and former 309 resident, wrote a book featuring the oral histories that have been collected. 

The book, A Punkhouse in the Deep South: The oral history of 309, is due out on October 5th, 2021 and is being published by University Press of Florida. 

Satterwhite and Cometbus had been planning on writing a book about 309 but figured it would just be a one-off that would be kept at 309. That was until they realized they had all these oral history interviews to touch on.

“We have all these great interviews,” Satterwhite said. “What if we wrote a book about 309 using all these interviews.”

Although there were many interviews, only a handful were fully transcribed, and the two authors had to transcribe the rest. Satterwhite said that they also edited down the transcripts, in some cases from 50 pages to 15 pages.

The focus of the book, Satterwhite says, is on the people who make up Punk and their lives within the spaces they call home. In this case, that’s 309.

“Usually when people focus on Punk, what they focus on are the bands, the big names, or maybe the philosophy, sometimes the clothing or style,” Satterwhite says. “But oddly the Great Unwashed are rarely a focus.”

The Great Unwashed is the name that Punks collectively call themselves.

Despite the museum not even being open yet, it is an exciting time for Pensacola’s Punks.

Many of the places that the Pensacola scene used to call their own have faded or have closed entirely, but not 309.

309 remains alive because of the tireless work of those who have lived there and those who know its value to Punk and to Pensacola.