Posted in Preservation News
Pasaquan opens to the public on October 22, 2016 after two years of structural repairs and intense art conservation work. As Eddie Owens Martin, known as St. EOM, would say, the past, present, and future all come together at Pasaquan. And, indeed, they have.
Kohler Foundation was contacted by noted folklorist Fred Fussell of Columbus, Georgia on behalf of the Pasaquan Preservation Society more than ten years ago. The group cared for the site for over two decades, caring for it to the best of their ability but with limited resources. Pasaquan was always of interest to Kohler Foundation, and when Fred made that initial call, it was discussed, but the request was declined. Kohler Foundation was engaged in other preservation projects at the time, and frankly, the project was daunting given the deteriorating conditions and the magnitude of the site.
A decade later, when Fred called again, Kohler Foundation was seeking a major project and in the ensuing ten years, we had finished several major projects, including the Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas. Over the years, we pulled together an amazing team of objects conservators and painting conservators who we trusted and who we knew could do the job. International Artifacts from Houston and Los Angeles, with technicians brought in from Kansas and Wisconsin, handled the structural issues with the art. Parma Conservation of Chicago took on the massive job of color matching, testing, and painting. These two conservation firms worked well as a team and benefited from local talent and interns from the University of Wisconsin and Columbus State University.
A local contractor, T.G. Gregory of Columbus, Georgia, was hired as general contractor. Tim’s crew proved to be exceptional problem solvers and highly skilled craftsmen. They did a superb job renovating and making the buildings functional and sound. With a keen understanding of preservation work, Tim’s group fit in well with the art conservation team, each with their own role, but guiding, helping and contributing to one another along the way.
Pasaquan is Kohler Foundation’s largest and most challenging project to date, but we had a team that worked through it and delivered incredible results.
All this was done amid scorching heat and high humidity and constantly dealing with snakes, termites, spiders, and fire ants. Challenges and problems arrived as if by avalanche. Two years of hard work. Sweat and more sweat. Conditions were less than perfect, and there were also budgets and deadlines to be considered. Pasaquan is Kohler Foundation’s largest and most challenging project to date, but we had a team that worked through it and delivered incredible results.
However, preserving the site is only half the equation. Kohler Foundation never takes on a site without a solid recipient identified to take care of the preserved site into the future. Without someone to care for the art and property, make it accessible to the public, and to offer programing, none of this would make sense. In this case, we were so very fortunate to partner with Columbus State University (Columbus, GA). Forward thinking and appreciative of the arts, CSU is an ideal recipient. Their administration has the courage to step outside the box and they recognize how art can enrich and change people’s lives for the better. They are already taking an interdisciplinary approach and involving other university disciplines to take advantage of this amazing resource and share it with others. Professor Mike McFalls, from CSU’s Art Department, coordinates the site and the programming. We couldn’t have better partners; clearly, what CSU does will continue to impact the region for many years to come.
Pasaquan is located outside of Buena Vista in Marion County, GA, and this small community welcomed Kohler Foundation with open arms. Our team immersed themselves in Buena Vista and we have seen Buena Vista take on the challenge to be ready for the opening of Pasaquan. Their community leaders and state tourism officials recognize that Buena Vista and Marion County have a treasure in their midst. It is heart-warming to see this level of involvement from the local community as they welcome visitors to Pasaquan.
For more information contact the Director of Pasaquan, Professor Michael McFalls at email@example.com.
To find out more about the opening events, see details on the Pasaquan website.
~ Terri Yoho, Executive Director, Kohler Foundation, Inc.