Hope Cohn has a dream.
She wants to keep the legacy of the historic Spruill family alive.
The Spruills were among the first settlers of Dunwoody and owned a large farm in what is now the Perimeter Mall commercial area. Their home, a circa 1889 farmhouse in which several generations of Spruills lived, has been preserved and sits at the bustling corner of Ashford Dunwoody Road and Meadow Lane.
It’s an art gallery now. But it wasn’t that long ago that the house was surrounded by farmland in what another generation once called “the country.” I remember, for example, that when we moved to Atlanta in 1973 you could still see Mr. Spruill with his mules in the area where Best Buy now sits near the intersection of Hammond Drive and Ashford Dunwoody Road.
Behind the farmhouse are two outbuildings, a smokehouse and a seed house. They remain as good examples of Southern farmsteads from a bygone era. Behind them lie five garden plots. Lined with cinderblocks and filled with weeds, these little plots are a sad reminder of what was once a sprawling farm and a different, less hectic way of life.
Hope’s dream is to restore the garden plots. As the director of the gallery, she sees them daily. Restoring them, she believes, would preserve the history of the Spruill family and their love of farming and gardening.
It also would be a way, she says, to show a new generation of urban dwellers the value of green space. She believes it’s important for the thousands who pass the house daily as they head to shopping, work, office or suburban home destinations to understand that green space should be an integral part of our community.
“I want to take the space back to its roots,” she told me. “No pun intended.”
But Hope has a problem.
To make her garden dream come true, she needs $3,000. Of that amount, $2,000 is needed to install the garden and another $1,000 to maintain it for the first year. So far, she’s received donations of a couple of hundred dollars.
She needs the rest by May 1.
If she succeeds, the area where the garden plots are located will become gardens for those “in need.” One bed, for example, would be devoted to those with Alzheimer’s disease. “This would provide some type of experience where they could interact with the garden,” Hope said.
The garden area would also include outdoor sculptures. In effect, the area would be a place for outdoor art as well as a site that would preserve the Spruill farming and gardening legacy.
If her fundraising efforts fall short, the garden will become just a sculpture garden.
Hope is reaching out to the Dunwoody community to help preserve the legacy of an historic family, conserve precious green space and help those in need. If you would like to help her, she would welcome your donations.
She was going to set up a PayPal account to make it easy to make financial gifts. But, the gallery is a non-profit, and she doesn’t have the budget to set up PayPal. Donations, instead, can be mailed to:
The Spruill Art Gallery
4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30338
Checks should be made out to the Spruill Center for the Arts and marked Spruill Garden Project. If you have any questions, you can call Hope at 770 394-4019.
You can also drop off a donation at the gallery. If you do that, take a moment to walk around the grounds. And think for a moment about what life must have been like when it was a tractor pulling up to the house rather than a line of cars with impatient drivers talking on mobile phones while waiting for the light to change at Meadow Lane and Ashford Dunwoody Road.