Happy Campers

A couple in Konnarock gives vintage campers new life.

Tucked into southwest Virginia, on a mountain in Konnarock, not far from Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee, is a magical place called the Funhouse. 

It’s the place that renaissance couple and former Richmonders Bruce and Dawn Waters now call home. A funky mixture of old and new, the Funhouse compound is a combination of nature and nurture. Here, there are woods and creeks to play in, and studios and music rooms to create in. Not to mention the gorgeous natural landscape that is now dotted with the quirky vintage campers the couple restores.

With names like Frolics, Shastas and Globetrotters, the Waters’ campers began as a venture for friends in 2014. Soon, thanks to social media and word of mouth, the idea caught on and the couple began selling them. “We don’t gut and makeover the campers á la HGTV” says Dawn, a former director of communications at VCU’s School of the Arts and at its Brandcenter. “But we spruce them up, cute them up, and find them a good home.” Bruce, who retired three years ago after a long career in marketing at National Public Radio, is always on the look out for campers. The couple has rescued just north of a dozen from as far away as Louisiana and New York. The campers are relatively affordable, averaging less than $4,000. 

For Bruce, moving to Konnarock was a return to his roots. While he grew up in the D.C. area, the property was in his family for years. After retiring, Bruce’s father, a Washington, D.C., police officer, moved to Konnarock and ran the general store. His parents also owned the rail depot on the property and a historic building that was the former post office and headquarters of the Hassinger Lumber Company.

For 25 years Bruce and Dawn visited Konnarock almost every July. Slowly, the old family compound was updated and transformed; the post office and train depot became Bruce and Dawn’s home, and new amenities (an outdoor shower, a bar dubbed the “Brucestro,” an art studio, and a pavilion) sprung up. 

Though the Waters made Konnarock their permanent home three years ago, part of the deal of giving country life a go, says Bruce, was that they could still travel. Perhaps in a spruced-up camper. KonnarockFunhouse.wixsite.com/campers

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