The Georgia Trust

2006 PLACES IN PERIL:

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation
Announces its 2006 list of 10 ‘Places in Peril’

ATLANTA, Nov. 14, 2005 — The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation released today its 2006 list of 10 Places in Peril in the state.

Sites on the list include: The Terrell County Courthouse in Dawson; the Auburn Avenue Commercial District in Atlanta; Andalusia, the home of Flannery O’Connor, outside of Milledgeville; Hartwell Downtown National Register District; Pasaquan, an internationally acclaimed visionary art site in Marion County near Buena Vista; U.S. Highway 17, the gateway to Historic Brunswick and the Golden Isles; the former Hawkinsville High School; Ponce de Leon Apartments in Atlanta; City Mills in Columbus; and the Cowen Farmstead in Acworth.

“This is the first year that The Georgia Trust has released a Places in Peril list,” said Greg Paxton, president and CEO of the Trust. “We hope the list will draw attention to larger issues facing Georgia’s historic places by highlighting endangered buildings or sites that represent threatened resources throughout the state,” he added.

Paxton also said the Trust anticipates developing a similar list annually and announcing the sites placed on the Places in Peril list each November.

Places in Peril is designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.

“We are not attempting to develop a ‘most endangered list’ for Georgia,” Paxton said of the Places in Peril list. “There are hundreds of locations throughout our state that could have been on our list - - - and they are just as endangered and in need of community help as the 10 we have identified,” he added.

Through Places in Peril, the Trust hopes to encourage owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ preservation tools, partnerships and resources necessary to reclaim, restore and revitalize historic properties that are in peril.

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organization with more than 8,000 members.

Committed to preserving and enhancing Georgia’s communities and their diverse historic resources for the education and enjoyment of all, The Georgia Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund; provides design assistance to 105 Georgia Main Street cities and encourages neighborhood revitalization; trains Georgia’s teachers to engage students in 61 Georgia school systems to discover state and national history through their local historic resources; and advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts.

The Georgia Trust is a recipient of the Trustees Award for Organizational Excellence from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Editor’s Note: Summary information on each of the 10 Places in Peril follows. For additional information on each site, background information on the program itself, additional thoughts from Trust President & CEO Greg Paxton and a high-resolution photo of each site, please click here.

Both Paxton and Glen Bennett, the Trust’s senior director of preservation services, are available for in-person and telephone interviews. Paxton’s direct line is 404-885-7801. Bennett’s direct line is 404-885-7804.

Summary Information on each Places in Peril Site

Terrell County Courthouse, Dawson

Built in 1892, the Terrell County Courthouse in Dawson was designed by William H. Parkins, one of the state’s leading post-Civil War architects. With estimated repairs reaching $5 million, this High Victorian brick courthouse is one of the most threatened courthouses in the state. Terrell County’s courthouse is just one of 139 historic Georgia courthouses that risk endangerment without state technical and financial assistance. Others in great need of repair include courthouses in Appling, Brooks, Clinch, Hancock, Mitchell, Randolph, Schley, Steward, Talbot, Taliaferro, Taylor, Treutlen, Turner, Wilcox, Wilkes and Wilkinson counties.

Auburn Avenue Commercial District, Atlanta

Internationally recognized as the birthplace of the civil rights movement and a National Historic Landmark District, the Auburn Avenue Commercial District in Atlanta contains a long list of historically and architecturally significant structures. Once a thriving African-American business district, after segregation ended, businesses closed and residents moved elsewhere. Today, the remaining businesses are mixed with boarded up buildings. What the area needs now is a unified, community-developed and -supported vision for revitalization based on the preservation and reuse of the area’s existing buildings.

Andalusia, Milledgeville

The home of one of the most respected American fiction writers, Andalusia served as an inspiration to many of the late Flannery O’Connor’s stories. Located outside of Milledgeville, Andalusia has been deteriorating since 1964 when it was last occupied as a residence. Since 2001, the Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation has worked to stabilize the property, but needs additional funds to maintain the buildings. The site represents scores of historic sites across Georgia that need additional funds to fulfill their mission and operate as museums.

Pasaquan, Marion County, Buena Vista

Pasaquan, an internationally acclaimed visionary art site in Marion County near Buena Vista, consists of six major structures—the oldest a redesigned 1885 farmhouse—and hundreds of feet of decorated walls that are rapidly deteriorating due to lack of adequate funding to maintain the property. The four-acre site is now managed by the Pasaquan Preservation Society, a volunteer board of trustees that needs funding to develop a strategic plan, a master plan for the site and for restoration. Like Pasaquan, there are scores of historic landscapes throughout Georgia that need additional funding to support restoration and maintenance efforts.

Downtown Hartwell

National drugstore chain CVS wants to open a location in downtown Hartwell, but its plans include the demolition of an entire block of historic buildings. In their place, the company wants to build a store with a drive-through window and blank wall facing the street—a design incompatible with Hartwell’s revitalization efforts. The influx of retail chains like CVS into downtown can be positive, but an auto-oriented suburban site plan for this store does not fit into the context of a walkable, pedestrian-friendly downtown.

U.S. Highway 17, Brunswick

Over the years, many preservationists and local organizations have tried to preserve Highway 17, known as the “Gateway to Historic Brunswick and the Golden Isles.” More recently, leaders in this area have recognized the importance of this gateway to their communities. While a master planning process is currently focused on this important corridor, character-specific zoning and design guidelines are needed to protect its historic and scenic character while guiding compatible new development along the route. Like Highway 17, many other roadways leading to Georgia’s historic downtowns are becoming engulfed with unplanned development and would greatly benefit from measures to preserve positive qualities while guiding new development.

Old Hawkinsville High School

Built in 1936, the Old Hawkinsville High School served as the neighborhood school for Pulaski County until 1976. Many want to save the structure, but if a new use or influx of funds for preservation and ongoing maintenance are not found within the next two years, the building may be demolished. As schools are built on the outskirts of town on vacant lots, well-built former schools such as Hawkinsville High School are falling into disuse and disrepair. Many communities have found adaptive uses for their former schools. New national guidelines already in place offer Georgia an alternative to abandoning conveniently located, historic in-town schools.

Ponce de Leon Apartments, Atlanta

Located opposite the Fox Theatre at the corner of Atlanta’s Ponce de Leon Avenue and Peachtree Street, the Ponce de Leon Apartments opened in 1913 as a companion piece to the Georgian Terrace Hotel. After an incomplete condominium conversion in 1982, the building’s fate is up in the air. The building needs substantial funding for rehabilitation. Many historic condominiums may face similar problems in the future.

City Mills, Columbus

Established by wealthy planter Seaborn Jones in 1828, City Mills in Columbus, Ga., spent 150 years grinding corn and wheat. Recently one of the mill’s structures built by Horace King, a freed slave known for his post-Civil War covered bridges, was illegally razed. Because the long-term owners have been unable to find a new use for City Mills, its future is uncertain. While several large mill buildings throughout the state have recently been rehabilitated, Georgia has dozens of such mills sitting vacant. Although it’s often a challenge to find new uses for such large buildings, successful examples in Georgia include mills in Newnan, Athens, Augusta, Atlanta and elsewhere in Columbus.

Cowen Farmstead

Like many historic properties throughout metro Atlanta, the Cowen Farmstead in Acworth—one of the few remaining antebellum houses in Cobb County—is now threatened by deferred maintenance and impending development and sprawl. In mid October, The Georgia Trust took ownership of the property, and in the coming months will seek funds and in-kind donations to initiate exterior restoration work on the National Register-listed property. Once the property is stabilized, the Trust will sell it to a new owner who will complete interior restoration.

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