DINNER ON THE GROUNDS PART OF GEORGIA CEREMONY
By Doc Lawrence
The dedication ceremonies were preceded by dinner on the grounds after church services, a Southern tradition that harkens to early America according to one prominent nearby resident. Frank Spence, a former top official with the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Special Olympics praised the event: “Where else except in a town like Stone Mountain could we enjoy a bountiful community feast, inspirational choir singing and renewing payer to honor a magnificent painting?”
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The mural project began as the idea of community leader Pat Sabattle who joined with councilwoman Susan Coletti to gain the support of city government and the owner of the property for the proposed mural, the Stone Maintain. First Baptist Church. Stone Mountain resident Olivia Thomason, a noted Georgia folk artist whose paintings are in corporate and private collections throughout the country, agreed to design and supervise the project. “When Olivia came on board,” said Ms. Sabatelle, “we had a winning team in place.” Ms. Thomason has created paintings for the Dekalb History Center, the Decatur Arts Festival and other Georgia events and for many years owned The Primitive Eye, a major art gallery in Atlanta’s Dekalb County.
The mural took shape over a period of months, Parker revealed, “in scorching heat, working on a high scaffold, motivated solely by goodwill and love for the city.” The wall with the painting is part of the pavilion and lawn that contains some remarkable history. Although they are no longer there, Riverside Military Academy was once on the grounds, followed by a luxury hotel. At the base of the lawn is a memorial bell honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech where he said, “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.” Another monument documents “Sherman’s Neckties,” part of the Civil War strategy employed by the Union Army to destroy the railroad system of the Confederacy. And in 1864, “The March to The Sea,” began here.
Peter J. Hatch discusses his book, “A Rich Spot of Earth-Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello.”