In many ways she will never be complete, but that’s ok. Faith in what she would become, steadfast commitment to the cause, pure adrenaline, blood, sweat and tears poured into these hallowed halls. It was an entirely organic experience, never lending itself to a planned, calculated arrangement. One nail, one board, one brick and one thought at a time. Honestly, we shot from the hip and it worked. Whether one person came to visit us or a million over time, we set upon that barren ground to build it anyway. We were determined to build “her” come hell or high water. If turn of the century building materials and old relics could talk to each other, the place would be an absolute chatter box. It would never stop humming. There is too much “time” represented in the constitution of this place. Our project isn’t easy to describe or to assign a title. It doesn’t fit into any mold. Our grandfather once said, “the worst thing in life one can be is unoriginal”. Little did he know how his words would resonate here.
Having complete access to a smorgasbord of turn of the century textile mills, power plants, industrial complexes, old pre and post-civil war farmsteads lent itself to the design theory and architectural scheme behind what you see today. None of the facilities/mills that we plucked our bevy of artifacts from exist today, especially not within the context of their original function. What you see now represents the last tangible and authentic elements of twenty-one turn of the century structures. When they say “they don’t make them like they used to”, they are absolutely right. We are often asked, “what did this place produce, what did it manufacture?” Our answer always perplexes those that query us in that it never existed in its present form; that it is the culmination of many other places, producing hundreds of other things. All these parts just ended up finding a home, here. And we get asked where all of these materials came from and why were they placed into the structures the way they were. The latter question is a bit more difficult to answer except that it just felt right.
Obviously our place took on the shapes and forms it did because of what we had access to and what we found along the way. If we lived on the West Coast, she would be entirely different. But for five years, weekend after weekend, we crawled through the South, in and around abandoned mills and old houses yielding what you see today and placed into its present configuration. Much rhyme, much reason and a whole lot of “hold on to the seats of our pants” brought her into reality. And we would be remiss to not point out that we had some serious talent helping us along the way. While it took a singular vision to bring it to reality, it took a village to pull it off. If anything, Cherry Hollow Farm demonstrates our intimate collaboration with our environment, our relationship with agriculture and to an industrial world that dominated our ancestors lives and that no longer exists.
There is exceptional merit in the sincerity of Cherry Hollow Farm. She is far from perfect, yet astutely original and clever, conceived in fire and executed with clinical coolness. Start where you are, use what you have and then do what you can with it.
Just guessing, we most likely have the remnants of at least 40 structures represented including twenty-one industrial buildings/textile mills that no longer exist. A vast majority of the antiquities you see placed throughout the facility came from the Lanette, Fairfax, Opelika, Griffin, Arnco and Sargeant Textile Mills. We have also received all kinds of materials from the west and east coasts where much of the old industrial buildings are falling victim to the wrecking ball. Many a time, we found ourselves trying to extricate items at the same moment that the excavators smashed the very brick walls down around us. We had to try and stay one step ahead of the salvage crews. It was no easy task. While they obviously saw value in the steel, the brick and the old heart of pine timbers, our focus was in the beauty that we found in and about and in the remote recesses of these structures; places where men and women toiled and raised their family’s generation after generation. While at times we had competing interest with the owners of these massive facilities, we must recognize them for allowing us into their world and for their concern in helping us to preserve the legacy of these buildings. They were very gracious in giving us unfettered access to these structures. We could not have built our place without them and they are forever in our gratitude.
Carter and Laura Williamson bought the old farmstead in 2002, raised four boys and then began the construction of the venue in 2010 using a multitude of resources all over the Southeast. Given the vanishing turn-of-the-century textile mills, the Williamson’s found, collected and assembled numerous artifacts from these mills, relocated an 1860’s sharecropper home and began the construction and adaptation of the farm into a destination unlike anything else. Laura’s mother was one of the founding members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and both Carter and Laura have a combined 60 years of service for the USEPA. The venue imparts our concern for the environment, agriculture and for the appreciation and reuse of historical artifacts into the construction of Cherry Hollow Farm.
Visit Cherry Hollow Farm for a guided tour.
*COVID 19 - Our venue is perfectly suited for socially distanced events. There are a variety of outdoor gathering spaces for you to choose from as well as indoor spaces complete with large sets of doors that can be opened up to create cross ventilation.