On May 13, the Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a $123,400 contract with Decatur-based Diversified Construction of Georgia, Inc. for additional office space at the Mable House Arts Center.
Funding will be provided by the 2011 special purpose local option sales tax.
The Mable House Arts Center is one of three buildings in a complex on the corner of Floyd Road and Clay Road in Mableton. The other two buildings, the Barnes Amphitheatre and historic Mable House, are not included in the project.
The Mable House Arts Center was built in 1999 and includes four classrooms, a multipurpose room and gallery, said the center’s coordinator, Vanita Dauphinais, who lives in Kennesaw and has worked for the county since 2008.
Over the years, there have been small maintenance repairs to the space, such as replacing carpet or other flooring, but Dauphinais said this will be the first time a new portion has been added on to the existing building.
The Mable House Arts Center is approximately 8,195 square feet, and the two new offices will add another 280 square feet. Dauphinais said the construction will begin in August and should be done by early December.
The center has two full-time and two part-time staff positions, and Dauphinais said those employees have a hard time meeting with community leaders or interviewing new instructors in a private, quiet space, away from ringing phones and guests at the counter.
“We have three to four people crammed into one area,” she said. “We have all of this happening just a few feet from each other.”
The Mable House Arts Center offers a wide range of art-centered programs with fees for residents and nonresidents of Cobb.
There are music and movement classes for babies and toddlers, as well as a mix of pottery, jewelry making, photography and watercolor painting classes for teenagers and adults.
The most popular class is mixed media, Dauphinais said, “because they get to use a lot of different art materials.”
Dauphinais said the participants might be returning to an art form they loved as a child or are parents who want to expose their children to art not being offered in schools.
“We have people in the community that want art enrichment,” she said.
Dauphinais said a typical class length for younger children is an hour, but the adult classes can last two to three hours.
In the fall, winter and spring, Dauphinais said the Arts Center offers evening classes a few times a week, as well as day classes for retirees or young mothers.
For eight to nine weeks in the summer, the Arts Center conducts a weeklong summer camp session for children.
Protecting Vinings’ history
In a 5-0 vote May 27, the Board of Commissioners approved a grant agreement for the Vinings Historic Preservation Society, which owns the historic Paces House near the corner of Paces Mill Road and Paces Ferry Road.
The house is one of three properties the society owns on the land, which also houses the Yarbrough House, built in 1880, and the Old Pavilion, one of the earliest surviving structures in Vinings.
The Vinings Historic Preservation Society will receive a $10,000 Historic Preservation Fund grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to repair and stabilize the foundation of the historic Paces House. The society will provide a 100 percent match to the grant.
Gillian Greer, who has been the executive director of the Vinings Historic Preservation Society for eight years, said all of the funds will go to one corner that is crumbling.
“We are not in immediate danger of falling through the floor,” she said. “But it is very crucial and time-sensitive repair.”
The restoration project is a 10-by-10-foot area in the northwest corner of the house, said Mike Smith, vice president of the Vinings Historic Preservation Society and manger of the project.
To replace rotted framing, Smith said, “We are going to have to put a retaining wall underneath to hold up the existing foundation.”
The project will start once the grant is received and should take about four weeks, Smith said.
Greer said the society has been growing a capital campaign fund for two years, reaching $193,000 of the $250,000 goal.
“We have been trying to raise money for this for years,” she said.
These funds have been used to remove lead paint and replace the roof, Greer said.
The home dates back to 1870 and was owned by Solomon and Penelope Pace, who operated a ferry on the Chattahoochee River, ran a tavern and owned land from Smyrna to Buckhead, Greer said.
But the materials used for the structure date back even further. The existing historic house was built with the remains of the 17-room antebellum home of Vinings founder Hardy Pace.
Greer said the house served as the temporary headquarters for the Union’s General William Tecumseh Sherman as he planned the siege of Atlanta.
Hardy’s son returned after the Civil War to find the home in ruins, Greer said, and rebuilt a more modest house from doors, windows and remnants of several small cabins that survived the fire.
“It just has such great significance,” Greer said about the preserved structure that honors the family who founded and established the Vinings area.
After a year of work by the society, Greer said the property was listed in May 2009 on the National Register of Historic Places.
“History just gets torn down. And we work very hard to keep it preserved over here,” she said.
Today, the Pace House consists of three rooms: a parlor, a dining room and a bridal room. There is also a catering kitchen, a large deck and a shaded lawn.
“We stay very heavily booked,” Greer said. “It is a very popular venue.”
The Southern home is a place for family gatherings, Greer said, with 90 percent of the rentals from weddings or receptions.
“They can make history for themselves here,” she said.