Open house set at new ‘Studio 401’

Published 11:29 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013


In the 1950s and 1960s, a little building across the street from Opp Middle School was home to a kindergarten run by Mrs. Lillian McGill, wife of Frank McGill who served as Covington County’s probate judge. For many adults, who as children passed through the kindergarten on their way to first grade, the building holds sweet memories.

The house that sat in front of the kindergarten was where the McGills and their four children lived. After the McGills moved to a new home and the kindergarten closed its doors, the house sat vacant for years, but people still referred to it as the “McGill house.”

Then last year, Linda Williams bought the Opp property and with help from her friends is bringing it back to life as The Studio at 401. She invites the public to see the transformation during an open house on Saturday, June 29, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.

“We don’t know much history about the house yet, but we hope to learn more about it,” Williams said. “I know it is somewhere around 90 years old and the small building was a kindergarten. People around here call it the old McGill house, because Judge McGill lived there.”

Williams said they considered several names before deciding on The Studio at 401.

“My partners, Mimi and Dave Campbell, were calling it ‘the Studio’, and I added the 401 because the address is 401 East Stewart Avenue,” Williams said. “It seemed a nice fit for what we hope to see develop.”

She said space in the house and the kindergarten building is available for workshops.

“We are working on a schedule of upcoming events and will share details as soon as it is finalized,” Williams said. “Our goal is for the community to use the buildings for a variety of things.”

Williams said she hopes some of the former kindergarten students as well as folks who knew the McGills will attend Saturday’s open house.

“I’d love for them to come and see how the property is coming back to life,” she said. “I would also like for them to share their memories and stories about the house and kindergarten with us.”

During Saturday’s open house, several activities will take place, including a photography exhibit, arts and crafts, and from 1:30-2 p.m., a free yoga class taught by Nancy Blackmon in the kindergarten building. Andalusia artist Margo Russell will also be on hand doing watercolor portraits. Throughout the day “Dr. Bob and Friends” will play and sing. There will also be refreshments served during the event.