Woodstock’s efforts to create a walkable, vibrant, cultured mini-metropolis from Cherokee County’s once-sleepy largest city will take a significant step forward this week.
A decade in the making, the Reeves House Visual Arts Center is expected to open Friday as the centerpiece of what’s called the Elm Street Cultural Arts Village—and the latest attraction for Woodstock’s burgeoning downtown.
The contemporary visual arts facility is a rebuild of the circa-1897 Reeves House, one of Woodstock’s original structures owned by a farming family, that had stood vacant on the site for decades.
The new downtown facility in “The City Unexpected,” as the slogan goes, will feature a rotating art gallery and coffee shop/wine bar hybrid to “help spark casual conversation about art” and host classes in a variety of mediums year-round for all ages, according to Justin Spainhour-Roth, Elm Street’s marketing manager.
It’s expected to exhibit hundreds of paintings each year from around the world, and other mediums, free of charge to the general public.
“This space will be a pulse for the community,” said Katie Caldwell, board of directors president, in a prepared statement.
A “Revive the Reeves” campaign, launched in 2015 to save and repurpose the 120-year-old farmhouse, raised $600,000, but as construction began, structural damages were uncovered that led project leaders to deem it beyond repair.
Instead, work started anew from the ground up, and John Wieland and The JW Collection built the facility, at cost, with materials from the old home.
Beyond the new arts center, downtown Woodstock has seen roughly $600 million in recent mixed-use investment, as the city’s population has swelled by about 1/3 to 33,000 in the past decade alone, up from about 4,000 people in the 1990s. (Roughly 120,000 more live in unincorporated sections around downtown.)
A master-planned, 32-acre downtown mixed-use project by developers Morris & Fellows, which incorporated a range of historic building styles, is credited with spurring much of the growth. The same company designed much of Alpharetta’s resurgent downtown district.
Next door to the Reeves House Visual Arts Center, Woodstock debuted the Elm Street playground—an expansive space with boardwalks, tunnels, and rock-climbing—last year.
Across the street, Reformation Brewery redeveloped a former warehouse a couple of years ago into a social hub with a sprawling yard. And about a block away, the paved, woodsy Noonday Creek Trail is a highlight of the city’s growing, 23-mile multiuse trail system.
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