Modern Event Space Built From The Gold Rush

In April of 2019, Kevin Marcy became the owner of one of Acworth’s most special and treasured historic properties: the Cowan Mill. Built in the 19th century, the Mill has been a fixture on the Acworth landscape for generations, and in its new life as a wedding venue, it’s getting a long-overdue facelift (complete with covered patio, outdoor fireplaces, and one stunning chandelier). But you don’t have to get hitched to enjoy the newly revitalized Mill. Kevin and his family hope to share this special landmark with Acworth through community events, too (did someone say food trucks and live music?). Kevin sees his role not just as the mill’s owner, but as its steward. “Even though we own that building, we know we have a responsibility to Acworth,” says Kevin. “I didn’t grow up here, but I feel like I could’ve. I think of this as my hometown. So I really feel a responsibility to make this town even better.”

The Cowan Mill is pretty special. Can you tell us about it? 

That building is an iconic building here in Acworth. Many people have fond memories; I’ve even talked to people whose parents worked in the tapestry mill years ago. We spent a lot of time in the restaurant when it was the Old Mill, and just fell in love with the building. Over the years it opened and closed, and opened and closed. And I heard many people in the community wishing something would happen in that building, that would bring it to life.

What’s the story behind it? 

John Cowan, who was a prominent businessman here in Acworth, headed to Montana in the 1860s for the gold rush. They found a vein of gold and were able to strike it rich. Cowan brought his money back to Acworth, where he was born and raised. Not long after that, he built the mill. It worked as a flour mill for a number of years, and was retooled to be a tapestry mill, until it closed in the ’70s or ’80s. Then it sat empty, and actually caved in — at one point the roof of the main building wasn’t there, and the basement had basically fallen in. There was a big push to tear it down, because it was kind of an eyesore right there on Main Street. It actually had a tree growing out of it. It was very very close to being torn down, and Abbie and Tommy and some other folks really fought hard to save the building, because it’s such a part of the history here.

What do you appreciate about the Mill?

If you walk into the building and look around, it speaks to you. You can see charred wood that’s still in the walls from when it nearly burned down. You can see the second floor, which used to be there until the fire, etched out about halfway up. You can see the bricked-up doors that used to go out to the trains. You can see how the different generations came about in that building. Some of the bricks in this building are original from the 1870s. That’s just amazing to me. It’s just this beauty, it’s so unique. And it’s so prominent, it sits up there by itself kind of overlooking the rest of the city, almost like a lighthouse. Even when it was dilapidated, I always thought it was a really cool building, and wondered about all the stories, all the people’s lives it had touched.

You’ve been in Acworth for more than 25 years. What do you love about it? 

There are so many different things to do in this town that appeals to people of all ages. You have the arts; we have a great presence in the arts here, with all the different festivals and concerts we have. You’ve got something for kids and families, with the lake — you can paddleboard, and kayak, and you’ve got the beach, and it’s such a pretty place to picnic. There’s something going on all the time, like the wakeboard competition and the different styles of music that go on at Center Street Tavern. The restaurants appeal to almost all ages. People love Fusco’s and Henry’s and Fish Thyme, because great food appeals to everybody. And with the new restaurants, that’ll bring in even more people. It’s a small town with a bigger town feel that appeals to every generation. We want to be that small town with a rich history, but we also want to appeal to people who want to come up here because of new and exciting things going on.

What’s your idea of a perfect day in Acworth? 

We’d start out on a day that there’s an event in town, like Taste of Acworth. We’d enjoy the food and the sights and all the activities that are going on. We’d want to have a great meal together at one of the restaurants in town, maybe even one of the new ones. We eat out every night, so we’re definitely going to include the new restaurants in our rotation. My grandchildren would also enjoy a walk down by the beach. If there’s a concert or an event going on that evening, we’d throw a blanket down and enjoy the concert. There’s just so many different options. Even the new park, it’s just fun to be in that cool space and seeing other kids enjoying themselves.

What’s your best tip for folks visiting Acworth? 

Take advantage of everything you can here in town; however, I think downtown Main Street is really a cool place to go, with the spas, the boutiques, the food. There’s just a lot more there than people realize. You could spend a whole day just on Main Street. The restaurants they have are so different, but they’re all worth eating at. Everything that’s downtown here is there for a reason, and it’s all part of the charm.