Century old Gatlinburg school saves property

Century old Gatlinburg school saves property

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts needed $8 million to stay in its current location. Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts needed $8 million to stay in its current location.

6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - A Gatlinburg landmark has secured its future, raising millions of dollars to buy the property it has been on for more than a century.

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts needed $8 million to stay in its current location.

"We're talking about an organization that's been a part of this community for over 100 years so there's a great legacy to try to protect and preserve. This town actually grew up around Arrowmont, around this school when it was a settlement school," said Executive Director Bill May.

It is an arts and crafts school rich in history.

"It's going to change people's lives because it changed mine. It's just a wonderful place to come visit and to be," said employee Ernie Shultz. He has been at Arrowmont for 45 years.

Arrowmont School has been located in the heart of Gatlinburg for 102 years, but its future was recently in question.

The school needed to raise $8 million to purchase the property on which it sits from Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women.

"This was the only solution that guaranteed that this campus would be preserved and that we would continue to be a part of this community, and I think that's what brought people together," said May.

With a deadline set for March 31, the community pulled together.

Local government, charities, and private donors made it happen. The City of Gatlinburg raised $3.5 million. Sevier County chipped in $750,000. Windgate Charitable Foundation issued a challenge grant for $2.25 million.

The board of directors gave a total of more than $300,000, and other individual donors throughout the country donated about the same amount.

"I think it's a great relief and a celebration for a lot of people. For me personally, to be honest, it hasn't quite sunk in yet," said May.

"It's been a big part of my life so in a lot of ways it's been very meaningful to know that it'll be here another 100 years," said 27-year employee Bill Griffith.

They say it is a legacy that can live on now that they are in control of its future.

"Quite often we ask students who come to Arrowmont and they always say 'It changed my life in unexpected ways,' and we love to hear that and we will continue to change people's lives for the next 100 years," said Griffith.

They say this announcement comes at a perfect time because this weekend is Arrowmont's annual Legacy Weekend, where tons of people will be coming into town to visit Arrowmont from all over the country.

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