Organizations: Sautee Nacoochee Community Association

Attracted by the picturesque landscape, artists began settling in the Sautee Nacoochee Valley in the 1970s. To protect their bohemian paradise in northeast Georgia, they successfully petitioned the National Register to cite the area as a historic district, and they formed the Sautee Nacoochee Community Association (SNCA), dedicated to preservation and the arts. 

In the 1980s, the group restored an abandoned schoolhouse and transformed it into a bustling cultural venue, eventually earning the valley a ranking among “The 100 Best Small Arts Towns in America.” Now known as the Sautee Nacoochee Center, it comprises art galleries and classrooms, a history museum and an auditorium beloved by musicians and thespians for its crystalline acoustics.

“There’s something about the old wood that resonates just right,” says Athens rocker Caroline Aiken. “You can hear the plink and strum of every note with total clarity.”

The Center is the heart of a campus that also features The Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia; a restored slave cabin and African-American heritage site; a historic gymnasium; and conference and classroom facilities – all administered by the nonprofit SNCA.

“We hope to grow into a regionally recognized and respected hub of artistic and cultural enrichment,” says Executive Director Judith Barber. “We want programs that appeal to visitors from across the Southeast – and around the world – while also serving local residents, with community potlucks and classes for schoolchildren and students of all ages.”

As part of the organization’s ever-extending reach, this summer it will host an exhibit by Florida artist Eluster Richardson and an international ping pong tournament.

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