Celebrating Dalton Georgia’s New Burr Park
Citizen Donates $1 Million for Thriving Communities Project
The Region's Largest Thank You Party
Jeanne Burr is a flamboyant, glittering, walking work of art, and the gift that she gave her adopted community of Dalton, Georgia will leave a lasting legacy to her generosity.
A $1 million gift from Mrs. Burr will turn a vacant lot in Dalton into a community performing arts space. And the coalition of Dalton's arts and business leaders who have accepted her gift hope that Burr Park will be the catalyst for turning Dalton's historic downtown into a destination for the people of the region and beyond.
Jeanne Burr (center) meets admirers at Jeannefest.
On May 13, 2017, the community of Dalton dedicated Burr Park and gave the people of the Northwest Georgia community the opportunity to thank Mrs. Burr. The festival attracted several hundred people to the vacant lot, the former home of a printing shop. They came to hear live music, enjoy free watermelon and snacks, drink a few beers, but most of all, they came to thank Jeanne Burr in person for her community changing gift.
Mrs. Burr came to her friend David Aft, the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, and offered $1 million for the building of a performing arts center for Dalton. Davis politely told her that $1 million would not come close to building an indoor space. However, because of the Thrive Regional Partnership's Thriving Communities program, David and his team had built and tested a concept for an arts park in the downtown vacant lot. They called it "the Spot."
The Thriving Communities team tested their idea for the arts space on a crisp, chilly day in March, 2016. About 300 people came out, just as they did this year, to play in the park. And over the course of the summer, The Spot served as an event space but more important, as a gathering spot for Dalton's thriving arts community. The Dalton Thriving Communities team received a $20,000 implementation grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation in order to develop The Spot into a park with built shade, tables and other portable items. David Aft suggested that Mrs. Burr take a look at The Spot, with the idea that her gift would create a beautiful, permanent outdoor arts space. She agreed.
And with approval from the City of Dalton and the people of the community, Burr Park was born.
During Jeannefest, the Burr Park dedication celebration, Dalton citizens lined up to visit Mrs. Burr in her private tent and thank her personally for her gift. Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock proclaimed the day Jeanne Burr day and Mrs. Burr declared that she would be back, in almost exactly one year, to cut the ribbon on her new namesake.
Jeanne Burr and Mayor and Mrs. Dennis Mock of Dalton, Georgia
That a $20,000 seed grant could spawn as massive a gift as $1 million proves that investing in our region's communities is a great bet. Dalton was able to shoot for the moon, thanks to a very generous private citizen. However, Thrive is seeing the same spirit of generosity across the region in other Thriving Communities. As of May, 2017, the total investment from the region's communities as a result of the Thriving Communities program, has topped $1.6 million. We think that's a pretty good return on investment.