The LES Center is approximately 150 acres in size and is situated on the northwest side of Screamer Mountain in Rabun County, the most northeastern county in Georgia. Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this area of the state is characterized by hilly terrain, lush forests, waterfalls, and lakes. The core of the property where the majority of the extant structures and ruins of earlier buildings are located is positioned approximately 1,000 feet up a ridge on the western slope of Screamer Mountain. Hershey Lane creates a one-way loop that provides access to the main structures of the Center.
Currently, there are four structures on the property located in close proximity to one another, which were part of the Laurel Falls Camp for Girls that Lillian Smith and Paula Snelling directed from 1925 to 1948. These cottages have been rehabilitated and modified in recent years. Esther and Peeler Cottages were originally two of the pine cabins for campers and counselors at the Laurel Falls Camp. After the Camp closed, the two structures were rocked in and equipped as cottages to be used by Lillian Smith’s sisters, Esther Smith and Annie Laurie Peeler, after they retired. They are currently used for the artist retreat and for other residency programs offered by Piedmont College.
The Common Room Cottage was originally a craft shop; however, during the last few years of the Camp, the building served as a dining room (fire had destroyed the original dining hall). After the Camp closed, the building was used as a gathering place for family members when they were visiting the property. The decor of the Common Room reflects Lillian Smith’s interests, and it is furnished with memorabilia from her travels and from the Camp. There is also a full kitchen in this building with equipment designed to prepare meals for medium-sized groups. A washer and dryer are located in the cottage. On the other side of the Common Room, with its own separate entrance, is the Lillian E. Smith Museum. This small apartment served as Smith’s final living and work space. It contains her desk and typewriter, various memorabilia, and copies of foreign translations of her works.
The Director’s Cottage, which also houses Lillian Smith’s library, currently serves as a private residence. Public access to the library is provided on a limited basis.
There are two bunkhouses located adjacent to Esther Cottage, which are designed to sleep up to twelve people in each structure. The bunkhouses are primarily used to house students and faculty and other small groups for educational and recreational activities at the LES Center.
The LES Center is thirty-three miles north-northeast from the Demorest campus of Piedmont College. The physical address is 496 Hershey Lane, Clayton, Georgia 30525. The property is located approximately one mile from the Highway 76/441 intersection in Clayton, Georgia. The entrance to the property from Highway 76 East is via Old Chechero Road to Hershey Lane (.10 mile). Clayton is 110 miles northeast of Atlanta and approximately 73 miles west of Greenville, SC. Tours of the LES Center are arranged by appointment (706-894-4204).