The Macon County Heritage Center at Cowee School celebrated its official opening Saturday. Formerly known as Cowee Elementary School, the center was open to the public for a chance to see what the future of the old building would be like and organizer Stacy Guffey was impressed by the turnout.
"The turnout exceeded my expectation," he said. "I was especially impressed by how many people were in the school at times. There were moments where you couldn't even move down the hallway."
On the inside, visitors could find a different display or demonstration in every classroom.
Robert Shook of the Macon County Historical Society was greeting visitors in one room, while local author Eva McCall spoke to spectators in the gym. Quilts and artifacts were on display throughout the buildings, highlighting the cultural significance of Southern Appalachia to the Cowee community. Between the main school building and the cafeteria, there was a healthy garden that was coming on strong.
"The family of Annie D. Leatherman Smith donated funds to purchase the materials used for the garden. It was a very nice addition. The family thought it would be a great way to remember their mother," said Guffey.
Once outside, people could participate in games of cornhole or grab a bite to eat. Local musical acts like the Foxfire Boys, Five O'Clock Shadows, and the Macon County Line Dancers provided the entertainment until 7 o'clock that evening when Balsam Range took the stage.
"Two hundred tickets were sold for the dinner that took place before Balsam Range took the stage," Guffey said. "We estimated about 250 people in the yard during the concert and I would say over 300 people visited the inside of the school."
Moving forward, those who are interested will be able to take classes specializing in pottery, quilting, arts, crafts and other activities that have become a part of life in not only the Cowee Community, but Macon County as a whole. According to Guffey there will also be a series of concerts in the upcoming fall months.
"There will be performances in the auditorium. We have a new sound system so it's going to sound very good. In October, people can come out and see the band Mountain Faith. It's going to be good for the community I think."