The Bowen Center for the Arts is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1995 and incorporated in 1996. (Original corporate name Dawson County Arts Council DCAC).
The Bowen received from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation the 2001 Preservation Award for Excellence in Rehabilitation for its restoration of the ‘Old Rock School,’ a 5,000 square foot building that for many years was part of the Dawson County School system. Local Dawson County residents built it of locally quarried rock as a part of the Dawsonville High School complex in the 1930’s. In the 1940’s the major part of the school was destroyed by fire. After a town meeting sponsored by the Dawson County Historical and Genealogical Society and months of community planning., the Dawson County Arts Council, Inc. presented to the Dawson County Board of Education its proposal to assume responsibility for the Old Rock School in October of 1999.
The rehabilitation project cost was approximately $200,000. The work began in January of 2000 and was completed in September of 2000. The “Old Rock School”, now known as the Ralph & Ludy Bowen Center for the Arts was dedicated on September 7th and opened with its first Art Exhibit on October 1, 2000. These events mark the beginning of an ongoing program of events to enrich the cultural and artistic spirit of Dawson County. In October of 2000, the building became the permanent home of the Arts Council and was subsequently named the Bowen Center for the Arts.