Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This Thanksgiving, the staff of the Georgia Trust is thankful for many things, but above all we are thankful for our wonderful members! The support and encouragement you give us enables us to continue our efforts to preserve Georgia's historic resources. We are truly grateful for our many members who have continued to support us throughout these difficult times and who have helped to keep preservation an important issue in Georgia and the United States.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens in Chattooga County, Ga., has been named to a preservation group’s “Places in Peril” list.
The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation included the late folk artist’s 4-acre property on its fifth annual list, released today.
In a statement, the group says the list aims to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.
Finster’s gardens, packed with folk art items like a 20-foot statue made of bicycle frames and his famous paintings of Coca-Cola bottles, has been featured on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and in music videos and cover art for REM and other groups.
Other sites on the list include: Central State Hospital in Milledgeville; Morris Brown College in Atlanta; Canton Grammar School in Cherokee County; Leake archaeological site in Cartersville; Dorchester Academy in Midway; Old Dodge County Jail in Eastman; Ritz Theatre in Thomaston; Herndon Plaza in Atlanta; and, Capricorn Recording Studio in Macon.
It’s tragic when a dream dies, particularly one so steeped in Macon history. The former Capricorn studio buiding was set to be auctioned off Tuesday on the courthouse steps to satisfy a bank loan. Alan Justice had dreamed of renovating the building and forming a not-for-profit company that would have included a working recording studio, cafe and museum.
Capricorn studios sits on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and is the site where some of the greatest music of the 1960s and ’70s was recorded. The Allman Brothers of course, but Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Atlanta Rhythm Section and many other artists recorded there.
This chapter in the building and studio’s history was not the first time a dream went unfulfilled. Gregory Jones owned the building for a while and had renovated the studio — quite an expensive proposition. He went into the venture out of his love for music, but a recording studio is a tough business, even when the walls witnessed great music being made.
It would be wonderful if the next owner has the same level of love for the building’s musical heritage as the last owners. It is being recognized today for its historical significance by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. The building made the Trust’s “Places in Peril” list and could be eligible for enhanced services from the trust. Timing, though could make that difficult.
The studio building is in an area that doesn’t look like much now, but a redevelopment group has proposed a $29 million effort and the Capricorn studio building was to be the centerpiece. That can still happen, and we hope that it does. Duane Allman’s guitar riffs still echo from its walls.
— Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board
After an embezzlement scandal, Morris Brown, whose first building opened in 1882 to educate freed slaves, lost its accreditation in 2002 and had trouble paying its water bill and other operating expenses.
Trust president and CEO Mark C. McDonald said the preservation organization is specifically concerned with at least four historic buildings that are boarded up, not more contemporary structures still in use for the 100 to 150 students on campus.
School spokeswoman Bunnie Jackson Ransom said, "That’s Morris Brown's concern also. The Georgia Trust shares that concern with the Morris Brown board, faculty and the president. ... The alumni, the AME church and the faculty have done a superb job of keeping the doors open. You have to pick your priorities."
Trust leader McDonald said he hoped Morris Brown's inclusion "will create substantial dialogue about finding a new purpose for those historic buildings. There are a multitude of possible uses. They could be used for the expansion of other [Atlanta University Center] schools. The civil rights museum, instead of going into a new building, could go there. We should consider everything. Those buildings played an important role in the rise of the African-American middle class, not just in Atlanta but America. It seems appropriate to me to have a civil rights-related role there."
Herndon Plaza, built as an Auburn Avenue residence in the 1890s, became Atlanta Life Insurance's headquarters around 1920. In 1936, an annex was added, also in the Neoclassical style of the original building. Atlanta Life, which moved into a new headquarters in 1980, sold Herndon Plaza, vacant for many years, to the Historic District Development Corporation in 1997. Pending funding, HDDC has plans to renovate it.
A third metro property listed is the Canton Grammar School, built in 1914 and one of the few remaining Neoclassical Revival-style schools in Georgia. The Cherokee CountyBoard of Education closed the building last year, and the trust says there has been talk of razing it. "That's really why it's on the list," McDonald said. "It represents cases where demolition is so senseless when there are viable reuses for the building."
Also listed are the Capricorn Recording Studio in Macon and Paradise Gardens, the late Howard Finster's folk art environment in Summerville. Finster built his creation over a former swamp from "often-fragile materials" that have suffered damage from the elements. Much of Paradise Garden's art was sold off around the time of Finster's 2001 death, but some considered the overallenvironment his greatest work.
"It's a unique challenge," McDonald said. "We’re going to have to help leadership there come up with conservation approaches and help them find the money. A possible solution is for it to be promoted as a tourism site. Finster is gone, but it’s still there and an absolutely unique place to visit."
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
That’s why The Georgia Trust is bringing attention to 10 Places in Peril across the state and providing ways you can help in your community. Each site represents hundreds of similar sites throughout our state that are just as endangered and in need of community help as the 10 we have identified. So take a look at this year’s list, learn more about the program, and find out how you can help protect these properties and others in your community.
As part of the new program, the 2009 Places in Peril received nearly $50,000 in grant money.
The Georgia Trust’s Places in Peril program seeks to identify significant historic, archaeological and cultural properties that are threatened by demolition, deterioration or insensitive public policy or development, and have a demonstrable level of community interest, commitment and support. The 10 Places in Peril are selected for listing based on several criteria. Sites must be listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or the Georgia Register of Historic Places. Sites must be subject to a serious threat to their existence or historical, architectural and/or archaeological integrity. There must be a demonstrable level of community commitment and support for the preservation of listed sites.
In 1958, the tree had grown more than 9 feet, and the Temple of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, also on Peachtree, was bombed- the Oak stood as witness. The tree was there for Dr. Martin Luther King's leadership, and stood proud when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. It looked on as Ted Turner launched of TBS in 1975. In 1996, the Olympics came to Atlanta, and the old Oak provided shade for the Turkish delegation who were headquartered in Rhodes Hall.
Arbormedics shown above, indicates that the tree has been hollowed by a fungal infection, and has suffered extensive heart rot. The Southern Red Oak, which has served as a measure of Atlanta's history and growth, must be removed to insure that it will not collapse and damage Rhodes Hall or other properties nearby.
While it may seem ridiculous to some to write a such a eulogy, preservationists and environmentalists alike acknowledge the importance, ecological and historic, of old trees.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Columbus’ Bibb Mill still burns today — on YouTube, where the quarter-mile-long brick behemoth that burned one year ago yet blazes away in videos posted by people who caught the fire on cell phones or video cameras.
Columbus firefighters got the first alarm after midnight on Oct. 30, 2008, and while racing up Second Avenue from Station No. 1 at 10th Street saw the orange glow lighting up the sky.
The fire roared through the night, sending fat embers flying all over town. The mill’s pine wood floors, long treated with oil, fueled the flames. All firefighters could do was back off and contain the blaze, and keep nearby homes from igniting.
By daybreak, 11 fire units and 60-65 firefighters had been sent to the scene. Crowds of spectators gathered, some bringing food and beer.
Today the cleanup continues, with maybe a month or six weeks left to go, said Bill Reaves of Reaves Wrecking, which is doing the work.
The bricks that formed the mill’s imposing walls are not going to waste, he said. They’re being laid into new walls in new buildings.
“We shipped 100,000 to a really nice house down in Orlando in the last two weeks,” Reaves said. “They go mostly in higher-end residential uses, nicer houses.”
“It’s just the authentic look of used brick,” he said. “It’s like an antique: You can buy a reproduction or you can buy the real thing.”
A century of life
The beginning of “The Bibb,” as locals called it, dates back to 1899, when the North Highlands Dam was built. The dam’s water pressure in 1900 powered a rope-drive system in the Bibb, which expanded in 1916, and again in 1920. The mill’s 1916 addition extended the main building from 300 feet to 500 feet. Its 1920 expansion took it to 1,010 feet, from the river to First Avenue at 38th Street. This central mill building was six stories tall and 650,000 square feet.
In the 1940s, the mill had about 3,000 workers. On its last day of operation, March 20, 1998, only 200 were left.
Planning the future
Today the fire’s cause remains undetermined, said Chief Jeff Meyer, who heads the Columbus Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services. “As far as anyone can remember, that was the largest structure fire we’ve had in Columbus,” he said.
Owner Brent Buck and architect Will Barnes still are working on plans for what next happens to the property.
“There is a master plan currently being developed,” Barnes said. A $10,000 grant from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation has helped pay for a conceptual plan focusing on questions such as, “What will we do with the footprint of the historic mill, and how will we salvage the 1920s façade — how does that fall into the overall plan?” he said.
That façade at 38th Street still stands. How much of the remaining ruins will be preserved is yet to be determined, but the footprint of the building will be marked for future generations to see, Barnes said.