Henry gets land, home for arts

Henry County artists may soon have a new venue in which to display their crafts.

A 19th-century home, and more than eight acres of land on which it sits, was recently donated to the county. A condition of the donation, the property must be used for the purpose of promoting the arts in the community, according to Henry County Manager James "Butch" Sanders.

The home and the land are located near the Tussahaw Reservoir, on Leguin Mill Road. The donation includes the home, a barn, a well house, a mill, and a cemetery, according to Sanders.

The home was built around 1835, and has been identified as one of the landmark homes in Henry County, he said.

During its Jan. 19 meeting, the Henry County Commission approved a resolution to accept the donation from Suwanee-based Tussahaw Development, LLC.

The former homeowner, LaTrelle Brewster, is a life-long patron of the arts, Sanders said. Because Brewster's grandmother, Magnolia Wynn LeGuin, was a lover of the literary arts, Brewster's wish was to have the property dedicated to promoting the development of the arts in Henry County, he said.

"The property is being donated to Henry County with covenants and restrictions that will preserve and honor the intent of the generous dedication Ms. Brewster has caused to be made to Henry County," Sanders said.

Henry County officials said in a statement that they are working with the Henry Arts Alliance to utilize the property.

Henry Arts Alliance President Lynna Schmidt applauds the arrangement.

"It's fabulous," she said. "It's very exciting, because it [the house] is incredibly gorgeous. We can be stewards of the property, and make sure it stays open to all the arts groups in Henry and surrounding counties."

Schmidt said she hopes her group can use the first floor of the home for meeting space and an art gallery, and secure an artist-in-residence to live on the second floor.

She said county ownership of the home opens up new possibilities.

"I can see us having concerts out there," Schmidt added. "I can see artists having ‘paint-ins,' where families and kids can come out, sit next to the artists, and paint."

In 2006, Tussahaw Development received zoning approval for a mixed-use development of approximately 597 acres adjacent to the Brewster property, Sanders said.

The zoning approval required Tussahaw Development to demonstrate it had adequate wastewater treatment services to accommodate the development, he said. In order to comply, the developer bought an additional 107 acres from Brewster.

"They needed that extra property," Sanders said. "That was a condition of the zoning."

He said about 99 acres from the purchase was deeded to the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority, to develop a wastewater treatment facility. The remaining acreage, he said, makes up the recent donation to the county.

A condition of the sale to Tussahaw was that the property be used to promote the arts.

"She [Brewster] wanted to make sure her homeplace was used in a way that benefited the local arts community, so that had to be part of the donation," Sanders said.