Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lakemont Village

The welcome sign made me curious. What’s so ”historic” about Lakemont? Well, apparently, it’s the Mathis Dam, built on the Tallulah River by the Georgia Power Company almost 100 years ago. It created Lake Rabun and Lakemont sprung up as a settlement on its northeastern shore.

Lakemont Village is the town’s arts district – 4 or 5 buildings, including the “Old Old Post Office” (now a nail salon), Annie’s at Alley’s (market and deli), a building that houses Libby Matthews’s studio and gallery, and the Lakemont Gallery (the reconstructed Lakemont Lodge).

Who visits Lakemont Village? Primarily, it seems, lake property owners. With one-acre lots on the market for more than a million dollars, and houses listed for two to four+ million dollars, it’s no wonder that a simple sandwich at Annie’s costs seven dollars. The owners of the Mercedeses and Landrovers in the parking lot can afford it.

I doubt the locals can. So, it’s tourists that one presumes must keep the economy going. How many of them arrive at the Atlanta airport with Lakemont Village as their destination? And as for Georgians? To soak up the arts atmosphere, tiny Lakemont Village competes with better-known and much larger Dahlonega, kitschy but still popular Helen is much easier to reach, and Atlanta is full of splendid galleries.

Should that deter a visit? Hardly!

Having heard of the arts community, a friend and I made Lakemont Village our destination on an unusually cool July day and it was a pleasant experience. The place exudes charm, which is especially a good thing for photographers like Nada Powers Bunnell, a known nature and animal photographer.

We had a very pleasant visit with Carol Van Sant at the Lakemont Gallery, briefly stepped into Libby Matthews’s studio (she was not there, but her “sitter” was hospitable), ate our sandwiches on Annie’s porch, picked up a real estate brochure from the (closed) Harry Norman office, and roamed from building to building to take photographs (she the professional, I the amateur).

All in all, it’s small wonder Annie’s is up for sale. It’s hard to imagine than anyone can make money from art or food in this tiny community. If you’ve got the requested half million+, I’ll be happy to connect you with the broker.

Lakemont Village will be on the Northeast Georgia Arts Tour November 11-13 and I, for one, would not mind making a return visit.

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