Grant Henry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Grant Henry aka Sister Louisa (born 1956) is an American former divinity student, artist and businessman based in Atlanta, Georgia, best known for his artwork and installations created under the auspice of his alter ego "Sister Louisa" and for being the proprietor of the popular Atlanta bar, Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium. He is also one of the main characters in a series of best-selling memoirs by Atlanta author and syndicated humor columnist Hollis Gillespie.[1]

The work of Sister Louisa debuted in the home of Hollis Gillespie in November 1996 in an art show at The Telephone Factory, an art deco loft complex in downtown Atlanta. In 2001, Henry opened an Atlanta gallery on St. Charles Ave. in Atlanta called Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room; Come on in, Precious.[2] The gallery closed after six months. At the time, Henry was bartending at a bar called The Local. He was voted "Best Bartender" in the city for 2006 and 2007 by the readership of Creative Loafing (Atlanta).[3]

Grant Henry at Pacific Grove, Hollywood

In 2010, Henry opened Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward district, the neighborhood of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s boyhood home. The New York Times described the bar by writing, "Opened in December 2010 by Grant Henry, a former divinity school student, this bar plays with, and spoofs, church culture. Karaoke is performed in choir robes, and walls are decorated with faux-religious pop art."[4]

Earlier life and career[edit]

Grant Henry was born in Panama City, Florida, on July 1, 1956. He moved to Acworth, Georgia, in 1972 and graduated from North Cobb High School in 1974. He attended Berry College in Rome, Georgia, Florida State University, Florida International University, where he earned a BS degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel, Georgia State University, where he earned a M.Ed in Education, Columbia Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary, where he pursued a Master's in Divinity but never finished.

Hate-Crime Controversy[edit]

In June 2011, Grant Henry told the media the police said his bar had been targeted by a hate crime, which caused a public outpouring of support and a surge in business at the bar.[5] Henry's statements were in relation to an incident in which a vandal reportedly smashed the windows of his establishment, but the Atlanta Police Department assured there was no indication of bias crime in the break in.[6] Later in a blog post, Hollis Gillespie recalled that Grant Henry had told her he'd known from his surveillance video that the vandalism was caused by a homeless person Henry had once threatened away from his establishment with a baseball bat, and it was this person who had come back to throw the bricks through his windows.[7] Henry faced criticism for possible profiteering from claiming to be the victim of a hate crime.

Murder at Sister Louisa's Church[edit]

In November 2016, a bar patron named Mitchell Norman, Jr., a father of three, was shot and murdered on the front steps of Grant Henry's Church Bar.[8] Another customer was shot and wounded in the attack. Two suspects have been arrested, and the homicide is still under investigation.[9]

Grant Henry (rear center) and his parade float "Child Traffic King"

Child Trafficking Controversy[edit]

In 2009, at the Little Five Points Parade, Grant Henry angered residents of Inman Park, Atlanta, by entering a parade float that consisted of a white-paneled van with the words "Child Traffic King" displayed on each side of the van in large orange lettering.[10] Henry and three others marched alongside the van while wearing what appeared to be trench coats with nothing underneath. Henry wrote on the Sister Louisa site about the incident: "So, we got a white perv van, duct-taped words on the side . . . we dressed pant-less in perv trench coats, with black socks and dress shoes and we passed out candy to the children." [11]

Real-Estate Listing Publicity Stunt[edit]

In July 2017, Grant Henry listed for sale his loft condominium, located in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood in Atlanta, for $1.2 million, which is roughly twice the appraised value of identical properties nearby. An article appeared in Curbed Atlanta about this listing, which garnered anger from readers, homeowners and real-estate agents accusing Henry of not intending to sell the property, but rather just listing it as a publicity stunt in order to inflate the image of his worth.[12]