A historic structure at the heart of the University of Georgia Griffin campus will undergo a $1 million renovation thanks to a gift from the Dundee Community Association.
The nearly 100-year-old facility, which once housed mules that pulled plows and other farm equipment, will be repurposed into a café that will connect students and the surrounding community with the history of Griffin and Spalding County. The 3,900-square-foot Dundee Café at the Mule Barn is scheduled to open in summer 2018 in the historic structure near the campus student learning center.
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Dundee Community Association for this generous gift,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The new café will enhance the Griffin campus while further strengthening the ties between the university and the surrounding communities.”
The $1,023,000 gift will completely cover the cost of the renovation, which will create the first dining facility at UGA-Griffin and support a key pillar of the university’s Commit to Georgia campaign, enhancing the learning environment.
“As the second-oldest structure on campus, the Mule Barn represents a part of Georgia Experiment Station and University of Georgia history that will be preserved and cherished thanks to the generosity of the Dundee Community Association,” said Lew Hunnicutt, assistant provost and campus director at UGA-Griffin. “It will be the center and heartbeat of the academic quad, serving students and members of the Griffin/Spalding County community as well.”
The UGA-Griffin campus was established in 1888 as the Georgia Experiment Station, part of a national network of agricultural research stations that were the forebears of today’s Cooperative Extension programs. The Mule Barn was built in 1920 to demonstrate a new construction technique to the state, and original woodwork remains on several walls. Additional historical elements include the names of mules written on the interior walls where their bridles were hung, as well as crop weight calculations written in pencil and ink. These and other historic features will be protected during renovation and will be a highlight of the café, which also will host music and other events and house rotating exhibits on the history of the campus and surrounding community, including the nearby Dundee Mills.
Tom Gardner, chair of the Dundee Community Association, noted that textiles were a key industry in Spalding County, with Dundee Mills being the area’s largest employer for nearly a century.
“The Dundee Community Association was focused on being a good corporate citizen and an essential partner in Griffin and Spalding County,” Gardner said. “It was known for its dedication to supporting and enhancing the quality of life of the mills’ employees and their families. Today, the Dundee Community Association is truly pleased that we can make this grant of $1 million to the UGA-Griffin campus. We believe the campus will be a vital part of the future growth of Griffin and the Spalding County community as it continues to expand educational opportunities, provides additional employment, and gains even more worldwide recognition through its research, instruction and service.”