The building at 703 Atlanta Highway has seen a lot of changes over the years.
First built as a home, locals may be more familiar with the structure as the long-time site of Humpus Bumpus books, which closed in August after nearly 30 years in business.
The site is now home to the learning center for Building Bridges Therapy, which offers speech, occupational, physical and behavioral therapy programs for preschoolers through young adults.
“We fell in love with the building, especially the children room because it gave us the space that we needed for our preschool program,” said Marla Mann, who owns the clinic with her husband, David. “And just the feeling that you have in a space; you can still feel the love that [Humpus Bumpus owner Paul Cossman] put in the building.”
Cossman — who said he has spent his time since the closing of the book store teaching French, taking classical piano classes and waiting for his wife to retire — said he was able to tour the renovated building.
“It was beautiful,” he said. “They did a really great job configuring it to their use.”
He said when it came time to sell the building he didn’t want to see more of the same in the county.
“I’m just so tired of seeing pieces of property go to developers and being built everything to the highest bidder and everything being about money and … the most dollars that can be gotten out of something,” Cossman said. “I like them because it’s a small, community-based business, which I’ve always been fond of … Then, this was a company that was doing a nice thing, something that is very needed in Georgia.”
The layout of the building shows its past as a home, with fireplaces, converted but still-standing rooms, most of the original wooden floors and the wall of the former garage visible in a physical therapy room.
“When our contractor first walked through, he made a comment about painting the fireplace. I said, ‘No, no, I don’t want to paint that,’” Marla Mann said. “…I wanted it to feel like a teen hangout space. I don’t want it to feel sterile. It’s hard to get teenagers to want to come to therapy, so I wanted it to feel like a comfortable environment.”
Marla Mann said having a comfortable building was also a benefit for parents of clients.
“We are here to help and build that personal connection that builds a trust relationship,” she said. “For some of these clients, we’re going to be working with them for several years as they navigate the world of therapy and autism and do everything they need for their child.
“It’s also great to watch the parents sit around and talk with each other, make their own support groups while they’re waiting in the waiting room.”
The location of the building is also a plus, as it is close to Building Bridges’ other facility on Weber Industrial Drive. Therapists and clients at the learning center can walk to some nearby stores and businesses to work on some of their skills, such as sportsmanship or money management.
“It’s really important for the kids to practice and learn the skills in an office setting, then you have to take them outside to practice the skills at the same time,” Marla Mann said.
David Mann said he was thankful to be in an industry that had a personal impact on clients’ lives.
“It’s such an amazing thing to be a part of, and it’s very gratifying that you’re helping people,” he said. “We’re just so blessed to have awesome therapists that have done a great job. Some of our clients have conditions that they’re going to need therapy for many, many years. We’ve had clients for seven, eight, nine years, and to see some of those kids grow up and to see what all they’ve accomplished … it’s just a really awesome industry to be in.”