When you think of historic buildings, what do you think of? Stately mansions, log cabins, even ordinary looking houses that once were home to famous people?
Those are all important buildings, but do you think of industrial buildings, like factories, warehouses, or stores?
Industrial buildings are also important links to our past, and can give us real insight into it. Work, after all, is a huge part of everyone’s life at any period of history. And, in Atlanta’s history as in any major city, the impact of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s is enormous.
Which brings us to The Goat Farm.
In the middle of downtown Atlanta stands a complex of red brick buildings. Some of the windows are cracked or broken, and a few are only memorialized by a standing wall or two.
But this complex houses a vibrant, growing artist community, and the owner and the occupants are preserving these buildings and keeping them alive for all of us. Here, art happenings, photography shoots and various events take place where once industry reigned supreme. Artists have studios here, and bands have practice space. The air is charged with creativity.
The Goat Farm was originally a cotton-gin factory, built in 1889 on what was then the outskirts of Atlanta. During World War II, the Westside Plant in the complex cranked out munitions. In those days, there were more than 15 buildings in the complex, which covers 12 acres.
Naturally, such a desirable property has been actively sought by developers over the years, who would have torn down those buildings to put up condos or for a subdivision or shopping mall, but the property luckily fell into the hands of Robert Haywood in the late ’70’s. Haywood was an ex Army Ranger, and a worker in the Warhorse Cafe’, a coffeeshop on the premises, told me that he “used to scare off developers with a shotgun.” Further researh reveals that this is true, although he usually only warned them and didn’t actually shoot at them! Apparently, he used to sport a gold hard hat and boots and pedal around the complex, protecting the artists, sculptors and other tenants who flocked there. The place was named The Goat Farm because Haywood used goats to keep down the kudzu!
After Haywood’s death in 2009, the future of The Goat Farm was uncertain until it was bought in 2010 by Hallister Development, who specialize in preserving historic properties. So far, the company has cleaned out spaces and begun rehabbing them, and the complex now offers more than 100 studio spaces, many of which are occupied, and a great concert and event space in a large, gutted warehouse building. Many of the buildings are now on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The Goat Farm is a truely awesome place, One can only hope that it will continue to thrive in its present authentic form, while providing a haven for artists and an amazing, offbeat venue for concerts and events.
You can keep up with what is going on at The Goat Farm at its Facebook page.
The Goat Farm
1200 Foster St.