Fall 2018 Mountain Traveler
If you’re looking for a unique place — steeped in history — to enjoy fine arts in Dawson County, you might want to visit Bowen Center for the Arts, located in the Old Rock School, just a tenth of a mile north of the Dawsonville Square.
Ginny Greenwood, executive director for the center, shared history of the Old Rock School, which was built in 1935 using funds the County received from F.D. Roosevelt’s PWA (Public Works Administration) and CWA (Civil Works Administration).
She said the campus of buildings also housed two businesses, a canning plant and mattress factory. An annex for the vocational agriculture school was built in 1942. In early 1941 and 1962, the high school portion burned down but was remodeled. After the 1962 fire, the smaller remaining stone and brick structure was used for art, band, choir, home economics and shop.
When a new high school was built in 1998, there was
talk of tearing down the old building, Greenwood said, but locals sprang into action. The Dawson County Arts Council, a nonprofit organization led by Grace Privette, wanted the building for an art center. The Arts Council rallied the help of the community and four major donors who remodeled the 1935 “Old Rock School” for cultural arts.
The Ralph and Ludy Bowen Center for the Arts opened its first art exhibit in September of 2000. This Dawson County Arts Council, also known as the Bowen Center for the Arts, now has nearly 170 family memberships. The center recently opened a unique gift shop.
Greenwood called the arts center “a one-of-a-kind gem in the foothills of North Georgia.”
“Besides being beautiful with historic charm, the Bowen is also one of the most popular art destinations in Georgia,” she added. “Every year, thousands of visitors join in for art exhibits, workshops, concerts, festivals, recitals, theater, and children’s arts and craft classes and summer camp.”
For additional information about the Bowen Center for the Arts, visit bowenarts.org.