Local tourist site one of CNN's '16 intriguing things' for 2016

CNN's "16 intriguing things to see and do in the U.S. in 2016" includes a local tourist site.

Pasaquan, the internationally renowned psychedelic art compound in Marion County, is on the exclusive list that ranges as far as Alaska and Hawaii.

Columbus State University has owned Pasaquan since December, when the Wisconsin-based Kohler Foundation, dedicated to preserving art environments, gifted the property to the CSU Foundation.

"We expect this to be the first of many recognitions for Pasaquan," CSU president Chris Markwood said in a news release today. "We are thrilled to have Pasaquan as part of the university and excited to watch it develop as a cultural site, tourist attraction and educational outreach center."

Pasaquan had been open for public tours, but it closed last spring for preservation and restoration of the brightly painted pagoda, temples, totems, masonry fences and walkways. The site is expected to reopen in May, followed by a grand reopening celebration in October.

Located about six miles from the Buena Vista town square, Pasaquan is on the National Register of Historic Places. Eddie Owens Martin, known as the self-proclaimed St. EOM, founded Pasaquan six decades ago. The Pasaquan Preservation Society, a not-for-profit private organization, started caring for the site after Martin died in 1986. The society was among 13 recipients of the 2015 Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities, selected by the Georgia Council for the Arts and Georgia Humanities.

Two years ago, the society deeded Pasaquan to Kohler, which announced in June 2014 its plan to restore the site's seven acres and six buildings to its colorful glory.

Since then, CSU professors and students have been working with the society and Kohler to complete the project for the university to host events, programming, educational activities and tours.

"This CNN news just underscores all the hard work PPS (the society), Kohler and CSU students have been doing at Pasaquan," CSU associate professor of art Michael McFalls, who oversees the site, said in the release. "Our students from the Art Department, Department of Communication, and Department of History and Geography continue to be involved in documentation, organization of archives, developing a marketing plan and assisting with the conservation process. Pasaquan has already become a true experiential, interdisciplinary learning environment."

Click here for the complete list.

Click here for video of Pasaquan, filmed by master drone operator Jim Gates of Columbus.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow him on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.