Facilities and Rentals
The Arts Council Smithgall Arts Center
The Arts Council (former Railroad Depot) was built in 1914 as one of the only two-story railroad passenger stations in northeast Georgia. The building operated as a passenger station for the Jefferson and Southern Railroad until its purchase by the Gainesville Midland Railroad. In the 1940’s passenger service began to wane and the facility was converted into a freight depot. It was a working freight depot for the Gainesville Midland Railroad and later under CSX Railroad until its purchase by the Arts Council in 1992. The Arts Council renovated the original structure and with the help of architect Garland Reynolds added two additional buildings. Additions were made to the depot to give it a grand entrance with beveled glass doors and crystal chandelier. To honor one of the major benefactors of the Arts Council, this facility was renamed from The Arts Council Depot to the Arts Council Smithgall Arts Center.
The Arts Council Performing Arts Complex
Built in 1904, the Arts Council Performing Arts Complex was originally home to The First Methodist Church of Gainesville. The structure was one of the few downtown buildings surviving the infamous 1936 tornado. In the 1980s, the church became the home of the Westminster Presbyterian Church and school. When Westminster moved its parish and school to a larger facility, the fate of the historic building was unclear. As a measure to continue the advancement of the arts in Northeast Georgia as well as downtown revitalization, the buildings were purchased and later gifted by Lessie and Charles Smithgall to The Arts Council, Inc. in 2004. The Arts Council Performing Arts Complex is comprised of three properties: The Arts Council Performing Arts Auditorium, formerly the church sanctuary, was used for Arts Council concerts, performances, puppet shows, children’s art programming, and other arts events. The Arts Council Educational Building, formerly the school building, was used for arts education programs, art exhibits, children’s museum and other events. The buildings are currently under repairs and unavailable for events in the auditorium. Some portions of the facility are available to rent for meeting space or long-term studio and office space. The Arts Council Cottage, formerly the church parsonage, is a quaint site for Arts Council Membership events and other arts programming. Our Cottage is also available for rent for small weddings, receptions, arts exhibits, and meetings on a limited basis. All three structures have undergone critical structural renovations. While the Arts Council Performing Arts Complex is structurally sound and functional, the vision of The Arts Council is to give these properties the same level of detailed restoration that was done for the Smithgall Arts Center. With the help of individuals and corporate sponsors, that vision will one day become reality.
The Arts Council, Inc. completed the installation of a sculpture garden at The Arts Council Smithgall Arts Center in 2008. As a generous gift to The Arts Council, Shirley and Bob Bowden donated several sculpture pieces from their private collection. Many of the sculptures featured in the garden are the work of national artists Ferdinand Rosa, Robert Jarrell, and Deborah Masters. In addition, the garden boasts a bronze sculpture created by world renowned artist Frederic Remington. Revolving exhibits also include sculptures by Gregory Johnson, as well as 21 marble sculptures from Asia of past US Presidents. (The Presidents Exhibit is owned and sponsored by Memorial Park Funeral Homes and Cemeteries and is a temporary exhibit.