County inks deal with arts group

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald. com

A local writers group will, next month, be among the first arts groups to begin utilizing space in the Wynn-LeGuin homestead.

Henry County has sealed a partnership with the Henry Arts Alliance, Inc., to use the historic home to promote arts in the community. County commissioners approved a resolution in January to accept the donation of the home, and other property, from Suwanee-based Tussahaw Development, LLC, which purchased the tract -- along with approximately 99 additional acres -- from LaTrelle Brewster as part of a mixed-use development project.

Henry County has contracted with the Henry Arts Alliance to develop the donated homestead into a cultural arts facility, said Henry County Communications Director Julie Hoover-Ernst.

The Henry County Commission approved the contract during its meeting on March 2.

The Heritage Writers group will begin holding monthly meetings in the home beginning in April, according to Henry Arts Alliance President Lynna Schmidt.

"We envision art classes, music classes, concerts, play readings, and meetings" at the site, Schmidt said. "We will also have a rotating art exhibit featuring local and regional artists."

Schmidt said there will also be an artist-in-residence living in the home.

The home sits on 8.5 acres of land near the Tussahaw Reservoir, on Leguin Mill Road. It was built around 1835, and is identified as a landmark home in Henry County, county officials said. The property consists of an 18th century dwelling house, barn, a well house, and cemetery. It is the site of the old LeGuin Mill on Tussahaw Creek, Hoover-Ernst said.

The county's contract with the arts group specifies that the Henry Arts Alliance will pay the county $1 per month for use of the property. The contract is renewable for five years. It outlines plans to work with local artistic and cultural entities, said Schmidt.

The contract forges new ground, according to Brewster, the property's former owner.

"I'm not sure the county has ever attempted anything like this," she said. "I am thrilled that the county is ready for [it.] I think it is a wonderful opportunity for arts in the county, and I feel very privileged to be able to do this."

The contract means artists of all types -- including musicians, singers, painters, sculptors, glass etchers, and writers -- will have an opportunity to practice their craft on the property, she said.

"It's a remarkable collection of folks who are talented. They're all very excited, and I am, too," Brewster added.

"The opportunity for the art groups in the county is fabulous," Schmidt said. "Here is a space that not only is amazingly beautiful in its location, but is also good sized. The Henry Players, one of our affiliates, is already looking forward to performances and concerts.

"When you consider that there is not space available in the county that is exclusively for the combination of performing and visual arts, this gem is a wonderful venue in furthering involvement in the arts. "