After a fire broke out in the Clarkesville Downtown Square in 2014, one historic building was completed lost and three more were significantly damaged. Unfortunately, the water used to put the fire out caused even more damage and the buildings remained vacant for over a year experiencing further deterioration. From 2016 to 2021 the Washington Street Buildings were rehabilitated. The three remaining buildings had their street-facing facades restored using historic photographs for reference. Non-historic verandas, false fronts, and other non-historic features that had been added over time were removed. The buildings were carefully evaluated for structural integrity, and all wood structures were treated for mold due to water damage from the fire and leaking roofs. Historic flooring was removed to remediate mold and then returned and refinished with minimal replacement. Plaster walls were repaired, and original ceiling heights were restored. Thanks to the historic tax credits which provided the financing for this project, the city and development authority were able to save these buildings. Their loss would have dramatically altered the historic square and destroyed the cohesion of the National Register Historic District. Now, the buildings house four new retail businesses with over $1M in sales per year.
Awards for Excellence in Preservation recognize the appropriate preservation of historic resources and creative interpretations of historic sites.