Three years ago, Kari Finley found herself in between jobs. Her husband, Dustin, asked her an important question, what would her dream job be? Kari taught gymnastics classes at the Y and she enjoyed it so much that she hoped to make it a full-time job. Wanting to make this dream a reality, the Finleys bought a lot of gymnastics equipment and Rock Tumble and Roll (or RTR) Gymnastics was born!
At first, the Finley’s rented out space at the Fruitland Community Center and later in downtown Muscatine, but they eventually wanted to buy a building. Both had heard about the old Skateland building at 701 Orange Street. They went on an expedition to find it and, after some searching, discovered it intact but overgrown. They reached out to the building’s owner and offered to buy it. After making a deal he couldn’t refuse, they had a gym of their very own.
After purchasing the building, the Finleys found they had a lot of work to do. “We’ve learned how to do just about everything,” kidded Dustin. Along with whitewashing the walls, building a small rental apartment, and bringing the whole building up to fire code, the Finley’s pulled out the old drop ceiling and discovered beautiful wooden roofbeams held up by a single pristine arch. A former carpenter, Dustin knew good woodwork when he saw it. The couple wanted to make this architectural feature the centerpiece of their property and named it the Arch.
Currently, the Finley’s run RTR Gymnastics out of the Arch weekday evenings from about 3:30 p.m. (when they get off their second jobs at HNI) until about 8 p.m. in the evening. Realizing this left the Arch empty for much of the day, they looked for ways to utilize it for other activities and to make running it and RTR Kari’s full-time work. With these ideas in mind, they began exploring renting it out as an event center. As a test run of how it would work, they put out feelers on Facebook to see if anyone would like to participate in a winter bazaar. They received a tremendously positive response and held the event, with upwards of 30 vendors and approximately 100 shoppers an hour, on Feb 6.
Blown away by this turnout on one of the coldest, messiest days of the winter, they felt encouraged and will begin exploring holding other events there too. “This could be a beautiful venue for just about anything,” Dustin emphasized. If you would like to speak with them about holding an event, they encourage you to message the Arch Muscatine Facebook page.
As the Arch takes on a new life, the Finleys still hope to honor its past as Skateland. “Our students’ parents and grandparents would always have stories about Skateland and a thousand good memories,” remarked Dustin. As they continue to redecorate, they are collecting old photos and memorabilia to hang on a timeline wall and welcome any submissions you may have.