Open Spaces and Creative Minds

Sep 11, 2015, Atlanta Business Chronicle (excerpt)
Nicole Bradford, Contributing Writer

Just east of Atlanta lies the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, a 40,000-acre blend of historically and culturally significant features and calendar-worthy natural wonders. Among its many tourist draws are two unique spaces that often host workshops and retreats for organizations that are also in the nonprofit sector, whose event coordinators learned of their availability solely through word of mouth. “People come away with an experience,” Program Coordinator Melody Harclerode said. “It’s like a self-guided museum.”

The Vaughters’ Farmhouse was built in 1946, rehabilitated in 2013, and today accommodates 45 with public restrooms, handicapped accessible entrance and a grand view of Vaughters’ Barn, the last remaining dairy barn in DeKalb County.

An architect, Harclerode said she has moved from creating spaces and places to promoting and preserving those she believes are truly special.

One group recently inquired about hosting a workshop focused on healthy foods and choices for women in particular. Another hosted an event for artists who were inspired by the site and the landscape. With its granite outcroppings, the Arabian Mountain area has been compared to a trip to another planet.

Built over a span of 15 years, the historic Monastery of the Holy Spirit has been home for more than 70 years to Trappest monks. “They don’t want to be mysterious or odd,” Harclerode said. “They are inward people who care about other people; they want the public to come and enjoy and learn about their lives.” The Monastic Heritage Center includes a museum, Abbey Store and cafe, Bonsai Nursery and Garden Center and a Prayer Walk that leads guests to the Abbey Church. Its meeting space can accommodate 100.

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
On the web:
Venues: Vaughter’s Farmhouse
Accommodates 45
Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Accommodates 100