Hundreds of cedar shake shingles are piled up outside the century-old farmhouse. They’re to be installed soon as a new roof, part of a makeover for the Spruill Gallery in Dunwoody.
A fresh coat of paint, new floors and stairs, as well as the new roof, are part of the extensive renovations costing about $130,000 that now are underway at the art gallery on Ashford-Dunwoody Road. The “Everything Will Be OK” art piece stands alongside it.
The gallery’s renovations are expected to be completed in June and an exhibit is slated to open in September. The gallery’s popular holiday gift sale will also take place, right on schedule, beginning in November.
The gallery, a farmhouse owned by the Spruill family and first built in the late 1800s and then rebuilt in 1905, will not look “brand new,” promises Bob Kinsey, CEO of the Spruill Center for the Arts.
“It will continue to have a historical look to it,” he said. “It will keep some character look to it.”
While the gallery gets an overhaul, the 5-acre piece of land it sits on is undergoing some major development. A 7-story hotel with 124 rooms is under construction, and the foundation of a restaurant, Fogo de Chao, has been laid. The restaurant is scheduled to open Oct. 1 and the hotel, catering to executives doing business in the Perimeter, is expected to open in early 2017.
Money for the renovations of the nonprofit Spruill Gallery comes from the 99-year lease signed by the developer of the property the gallery sits on. When the Spruill family donated the house and the property years ago for the arts center, a prohibition against selling the land was part of the agreement.
However, finding a way to make the gallery at least self-sustaining continued to be an issue for years – until the board of directors came up with the solution to lease the land to a developer and use the monthly rent to covers expenses.
“We’ve always had a hard time driving people to the site [of the gallery], but now with the restaurant opening Oct. 1 serving lunch and dinner, we’re expecting to see a huge increase in traffic,” Kinsey said.
“This 99-year ground lease is guaranteed income and is better than if we had sold the property,” he said. “We’ve been able to unlock the value of the property.”
The money from the lease will also go toward expanded programming at the center and gallery, including creating more outreach into the community, said Jennifer Price, Spruill Gallery director.
A new sculpture garden is going in behind the smokehouse where the “Everything Will Be OK” sign stands. There will be new sidewalks and landscaping, including new trees surrounding the gallery and throughout the property.
The large hemlock tree that has stood for many years at the corner of the property facing Ashford-Dunwoody Road will be removed to make way for a large sign naming the businesses located within the property, Kinsey said.