Outdoor events in Georgia don’t have to be run-of-the-mill. Several locations in the state are famous for their historic buildings and formal gardens or have been repurposed as fairly industrial properties, turning them into outdoor canvases for event planners. These include a former artist studio, an old powerhouse and a replica of some of the most iconic buildings in Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg, among others.
Queen and Grant
A brand-new event venue in Brunswick, Queen and Grant took over a former artists’ studio that had some interesting architectural features. With its soaring ceilings, abundant natural light and trusses perfect for hanging decorations and lights, one would never guess the building’s origins as an auto body shop.
The brick building looks nondescript from the outside, but inside it has pecky cypress doors, a terrazzo floor with artifacts of coastal Georgia nestled inside, a room that can be used as a bridal suite and ready room, and an office for planners. The facility, which is scheduled to open in October, is adding a catering kitchen and brand new bathrooms with waterfall sinks.
The property’s outdoor space is a nicely landscaped courtyard with potted plants and palms that makes guests feel as if they are outside the city because it is so secluded. Alongside the building is a gate and a rambling walk with fountains and crawling jasmine overhead. In total, Queen and Grant has about 20,000 square feet of venue space, with about 6,000 of that indoors. The event venue can accommodate groups of 500 comfortably, depending on the configuration.
The Grand Reception Hall is wide open, so groups can lay it out however they want. It is a blank canvas. The property is in historic downtown Brunswick, which is going through a major revitalization. Brunswick is a port city with the second most active port in the country after Newark.
Newcastle Street is full of retail shops, restaurants and a brewery with an outdoor beer garden, and the city has pockets of squares with fountains, benches and art galleries.
Mansell House and Gardens
Alpharetta’s Mansell House has a storied history. The Queen Anne-style Victorian farmhouse got its start in 1910 as the centerpiece of the Mansell family’s 160-acre farm. It was built from wood found on the property. After the Mansells passed away, their oldest son bought the property and raised his children there. Eventually the property was sold to Herman Miller of office furniture fame. The company built a furniture factory there. The house stayed vacant.
The house began to fall into disrepair, so when Walmart bought the property, the company said the house either had to be moved or it would be demolished. Residents of Alpharetta banded together to save the house, deciding to move it to Wills Park in 1992. The Alpharetta and Old Milton County Historical Society runs the property, renting out the parlor and the Rose Room, a large double room where the wall was taken out. Groups can host luncheons, dinners, parties and showers inside. In the warmer months, groups up to 200 can utilize the house, wraparound porch and patio.
Many groups will lay out the food in the dining rooms and the drinks outside on the porch. A dance floor and tents can take up the large flagstone patio. The property has tents large enough to cover part of the patio or be situated on the grassy area on the back side of the garden. The Alpharetta Garden Club takes care of the gardens. The facility is busy from May through October and sometimes into November. Smaller groups that want to host outdoor events can always bring them back inside the house if the weather turns cold.
The James Madison Inn
The 17-room James Madison Inn is one of the oldest hotels in downtown Madison. The boutique hotel offers up antique-style accommodations with an intimate bed-and-breakfast feel. The hotel has several meeting rooms. Its smallest room is set up conference-style for up to 12 people and is perfect for private executive meetings.
The hotel has one of the nicest venues in the city. Variety Works is a beautiful barn-style venue that fits up to 250 guests. The two-story building was originally built in the 1870s as a manufacturing facility and features old wooden walls, a concrete floor, stunning chandeliers and sconces that create a rustic and refined ambiance. The Variety Works terrace overlooks the gardens and Round Bowl Springs Gazebo and Event Lawn. The spring, gardens and event lawn make a picturesque setting for any type of outdoor event, including corporate and private functions. The outdoor space, which is surrounded by woods, also has walking trails and a beautiful pond and can accommodate up to 300 guests.
For indoor functions, the James Madison Hall and Daniel Morgan Room can host up to 200 guests seated at round tables. There is a raised stage and double doors between the two event spaces.
The venue provides chairs and tables as part of the facility rental, but groups can pick from an approved vendor list for companies that provide linens and catering. Groups can rent the entire inn, taking over all of the individually themed luxury guest rooms and two grand suites. Each room includes custom furniture created by local artisans, and the inn utilizes reclaimed heart pine flooring, antique doors and windows, and a repurposed mantel from a local antebellum home.
PowerHouse Private Event Venue
PowerHouse Private Event Venue in Columbus is an indoor and outdoor facility in a refurbished powerhouse that used to power the textile mills adjacent to it. There are two structures, separated by a large green space on the Chattahoochee River, that can be rented for events. To get to the venue, guests must cross a bridge that was installed across the old canals that diverted water into the mills and powerhouse.
“When you have that aspect of the river and sunsets, it creates a really unique experience for the people using it,” said Peter Bowden, president and CEO of VisitColumbusGA.
The site is used for weddings, receptions, networking events and conferences. Groups meeting in the green space can set up food stations and tents. The inside event spaces can accommodate up to 300 people. If both the indoor and outdoor spaces are utilized, the facility can host even larger groups.
The PowerHouse doesn’t have tables and chairs, but it works with an outside company to provide everything a meeting group would need to host an event on the property, including tents, tables, chairs and lights. The center also works with several outside caterers, or groups can order food and beverages from Epic, a four-diamond restaurant that is steps away from the event venue.
The lower powerhouse has a viewing platform that looks down on the river and the man-made whitewater rafting course, which ends at the site. Meeting attendees enjoy seeing the kayakers doing stunts on the artificial surfing wave below or watching the whitewater rafters as they paddle down the river. Inside the two buildings, groups can expect exposed brick, historic iron beams supporting the ceiling, and gigantic windows for plenty of natural light.
Inola Blue Ridge
Inola Blue Ridge is an enigma just outside the town of Blue Ridge. The previous owner of the 40-acre property decided to re-create historic buildings from Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia as a tourist attraction. Rick Skelton, principal at Inola Blue Ridge, and his wife, Susie Council, bought the property in the hopes of turning it into a new urbanist town, with hotels, retail and private event spaces, all centered around this replica Colonial town with its manor house, tavern and chapel. The streets leading to the chapel are lined with tiny replica shops and a post office.
The Wythe Estate and Suites, which is a focal point of the town, is available for rent, offering sleeping accommodations for up to 10 people with four king suites, each with a private full bathroom and fireplace. In Williamsburg, the Wythe House belonged to George Wythe, a delegate to the Continental Congress and Virginia’s first signer of the Declaration of Independence. It also served as the headquarters of General George Washington just before the British siege of Yorktown. The replica is identical to its counterpart in Virginia, down to the placement of each brick.
When groups rent space at Inola for a conference, special event or wedding, they essentially rent the entire town, which makes for great photographs. The Hopewell Chapel on seats 90, while Wetherburn’s Tavern, another faithful copy from Virginia, can seat 65 to 75 depending on the type of event. Larger events are held in the 6,000-square-foot Orchard Pavilion, with its beautiful sheers and fairy lights, which holds 250 guests. The pavilion is adjacent to formal gardens with a large arbor and hedges and, surprisingly enough, is next to an apple orchard that grows heirloom apples.
There is plenty of green space by the lake that can accommodate a stage and is where the venue holds its concert series and special events up to 1,500 attendees.