Friday, August 28, 2009

2009 Places in Peril: Battery Backus

The Story: During the late 19th through mid 20th-centuries, batteries like Backus were vital components of the United States’ coastal defense system. Six individual gun batteries, with construction dating from 1885 to 1905, significantly contributed to Fort Screven’s coastal defense success during the Endicott Period. The 1898 Battery Backus protected the entrance to the Savannah River. Battery Backus, five additional gun batteries, the Tybee Island Light Station, and several hundred military buildings and structures were included in the 1984 Fort Screven National Historic District designation.

The Threat: The distinct role each of the Fort Screven batteries served is crucially important to understanding the well designed and complex system that made up Fort Screven. Of Fort Screven’s six gun batteries, all but one is privately owned. Batteries Gant, Fenwick, and Brumby are nearly unrecognizable following the construction of private residences on top of the batteries. Batteries Backus and Habersham are currently privately owned and available for development. The loss of any one of the gun batteries in Fort Screven weakens that understanding and distorts the significant role each played and why.

The Solution: The Fort Screven Preservation Organization, The Tybee Island Historical Society and other groups are working to ensure public access to the batteries; however, development pressure looms over this seaside property. The Tybee Island Historical Society has recently included Battery Backus as part of its walking tour. The group is also exploring the purchase of replica guns and other materials to help interpret the batteries.

Update: After barely avoiding foreclosure, development pressures continue to loom over this 1898 fort.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Member Spotlight

Katharine Sanders, Betty Slaton, and Peggy Barnett plan the Washington Ramble.

As we move closer to our Fall Ramble to Washington, The Trust honors a long-time member and passionate advocate for preservation in Georgia, Miss Betty Slaton.

During another Ramble to Washington in 1988, Miss Betty first joined The Trust as a member and helped to provide an insider's aid. Two decades of membership and activism later, she is serving as Ramble Committee Chair and making sure that doors across Washington and Danburg open for The Trust's tour. Miss Betty is dedicated to the preservation of her town- and Washington has benefited from her attentions.

A former teacher, local historian and member of the DAR, Miss Betty's keen attention to detail and real love for her town will shine through in this Ramble. Leading a qualified and attentive committee, Betty and the ladies have carefully arranged this tour, and it reflects a diversity of sites that highlight Washington's unique charms. We at The Trust have come to treasure Miss Betty for her perspective and scholarship, her commitment and spirit. We are grateful for her past efforts, and we look forward to continuing to work with her for years to come.

If you are interested in rambling to Washington, you can find more information and register online at The Trust's newly redesigned website. Join us as we celebrate this beautiful town!

Friday, August 21, 2009

2009 Places in Peril: Crum & Forster Building, Atlanta

The Story: Built in 1928, as the southern branch of the Crum and Forster Insurance Company, this office building is a rare example of classically designed architecture in Midtown Atlanta. It was designed by a team of architects including the New York firm of Helme, Corbett, and Harrison Architects and the Atlanta firm of Ivey and Crook. Helme, Corbett, and Harrison was a highly regarded firm responsible for the design of Rockefeller Center, LaGuardia Airport and the United Nations Building. Atlanta architects Ed Ivey and Lewis Crook were trained in classical architecture design at Georgia Tech during the early years of Tech’s School of Architecture.

The Threat: The Georgia Tech Foundation purchased the Crum and Forster Building in 2007 in order to expand nearby Technology Square. In May 2008 the Foundation applied for a Special Administrative Permit to demolish the building.

The Solution: After several well attended public meetings and the circulation of a petition signed by over 2000 people opposing the building’s demolition, Atlanta’s Bureau of Planning denied the Georgia Tech Foundation’s request. Recently the Crum and Forster Building was nominated as a local landmark building, which would further protect it from demolition. Both actions currently are under appeal.

Update: At its August 17, 2009 meeting, the Atlanta City Council voted 14 - 0 to adopt an ordinance making the Crum and Forster Building a local landmark building. This ordinance needs to be signed by Mayor Shirley Franklin in order to become law.

The owner of the building, the Georgia Tech Foundation has applied for a demolition permit to tear down this Italian Renaissance Revival building on Spring Street. It was designed by Atlanta Architect Lewis C. Crook, Jr and by the New York architectural firm, Helme, Corbett & Harrison in 1926. This New York firm designed Rockefeller Center and worked on the United Nations Building and other notable structures.

The Georgia Trust would like to thank Philip Covin, Chair of the Advocacy Committee of the Atlanta Preservation Center and the hundreds of citizens who have spoken out against the demolition of this significant historic building.

Thoughts on the City Council Meeting regarding the Crum and Forster Building

A large group of Atlanta Preservation Center volunteers, former Atlanta Urban Design Commissioner, Karen Huebner, and I arrived at the City Council Meeting for its commencement at one o'clock on Monday. We quickly observed that we were about in the middle of the agenda so we optimistically thought that the Crum and Forster Building would come up in about an hour or so. To our surprise, there were approximately 30 people who appeared before the Council to give their two minutes of "public" comment. This should have taken about an hour, but it took about two hours. After that, a couple of items that had been "consent agenda" were pulled off and each item took about an hour and a half of debate. One of the items was the creation of Senior Judges for the Atlanta Municipal Court and the other was Atlanta's proposed daytime curfew law. So finally, about 5:45 the Crum and Forster Building was moved up the agenda thanks to the good graces of the Zoning Committee Chair, Ivory Lee Young. Many of us in the audience were all prepared to make our passionate arguments on why the Crum and Forster Building needs to be designated an Atlanta landmark. No one from Georgia Tech Foundation was present. To our astonishment, a motion was made and seconded to adopt the ordinance, landmarking the Crum and Forster Building. Before we knew it, the question was called, the vote taken, and the ordinance passed unanimously 14 to 0. Democracy in action!

Past Memroies and Future Obstacles: Theatre owner optimistic despite financial woes

GRACE MORRIS, The Red and Black

Two years ago in an interview with The Red & Black, Georgia Theatre owner Wilmot Greene said: "I hope karma is on my side. My pocketbook tells me I'm doing the wrong thing, but my brain tells me I'm doing the right thing."

The morning of June 19 seemed to scream that karma was not, in fact, on Greene's side. On that morning, the building which he had poured hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations into since 2005, gushed smoke and flames - rather than revenue - out the windows.

"It's still unclear how much it's going to cost to rebuild," Greene said. "What is certain is that the cost will be more than the business can support. It could be as much as a million dollars. That seems like an incredibly daunting number, and frankly I am really scared."

"We will have to raise significant funds … but we sometimes sold as many as 100,000 tickets a year, so if we could just get $10 apiece from everybody that saw a show last year, we could make it happen," he said.

Although ticket purchases may have filled seats in the Theatre last year, they alone cannot provide sufficient funds to fill Greene's current financial void. Many who mourned the venue put on benefit shows soon after the fire with only the best intentions, but concertgoers didn't realize that only a fraction, if any, of that ticket revenue actually makes its way to the Theatre.

"I guess people don't really understand how rock shows work. There are costs associated with putting on shows that get paid off the top before anyone gets a dime," Greene said.

"People feel like they gave their five dollars already, when in truth sometimes we don't see a dime from benefit shows. I like having them, they are fun and I appreciate people putting them into motion. They just aren't always as financially beneficial as they may seem."

Realizing that he needed to seek additional financial aid elsewhere, Greene recently entered into an agreement with the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization.

"They can accept funds on our behalf and then they will write checks directly to contractors or subs. This is what we have really been waiting on," he said.

"You can't just accept money from people without having a good bit of accountability and transparency; there are all kinds of legal and tax issues with that. So now we have a place to collect and store donations and a method for it all to be clean and neat."

Greene appreciates the benefit concerts that local venues and music lovers have eagerly put on, but until now he has been in a strange position watching a fundraising campaign of sorts that he never organized or asked for. He is thrilled to finally embark on a "true capital campaign" and will detail the plans for it in a press release next month.

In addition to the particulars of the campaign, Greene hopes to give the Athens community insight into why the costs of rebuilding are so high.

"The Theatre hadn't changed very much structurally since the late '30s. Since the fire gutted the interior, the rebuilding will constitute more than a 50% repair. So, by rule, the entire building will have to meet all codes," he said.

"We will have to install an elevator, all the staircases will have to be much wider, the walls themselves will have to be reinforced with huge steel beams [and] there will have to be many more bathrooms and exits."

In spite of higher costs and more stringent architectural standards, Greene has remained an optimist. He still trusts his mind over his pocketbook, and he has even thought of a way that the fire can work in his favor.

"The fact that the exterior is standing means that we could potentially have a new, modern, state-of-the-art building inside that old art deco shell. It could be really cool."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Old Clinton Tan Yard

In 2008, The Georgia Trust placed the Old Clinton Historic District on its Places in Peril list. Within Clinton, located just north of Macon, lies the site of an early 19th century tan yard, reportedly the only significant historic leather tannery and industrial site investigated south of Virginia to date. The site faces many threats, such as neglect, vandalism, nearby development and destruction caused by the elements.

The town of Clinton was incorporated in 1816 and, as the original county seat of Jones County, was a booming city prior to the Civil War. The tan yard contributed to Clinton's industry and operated from the early 1800s until July 1864 when Union soldiers burned it, resulting in a total loss. Clinton couldn't compete with Macon's railroad and increased development, and with the loss of the tan yard, Clinton steadily declined following the Civil War.

Funded by DOT TEA grant money, recent archaeological excavations and studies of the tan yard site conducted by Cypress Cultural Consultants, LLC and the LAMAR Institute revealed bricks, rocks, grist mill stone, artifacts and topographical evidence of heavy foot traffic, wheeled vehicles and/or large draft animals. Dan Elliott, of the LAMAR Institute, wrote in an email about the site that Clinton’s “role in early Georgia economics, politics, and society is greatly underrated … an excellent example of an early federal-town that could be resurrected through historical archaeology and public interpretation.” Thus, the potential for heritage tourism opportunities is great, and could significantly contribute to the revitalization the town of Clinton. The evidence that has been found at the tan yard proves that the site is not only significant, but worthy of any efforts to protect it.

With the promise of SPLOST funding for the preservation of the tan yard site, the idea of creating an archaeological park at the site, including 13 acres of the original town with historic buildings, is under consideration. Looking to other archaeological parks and sites (such as the 2009 Place in Peril, Fort Daniel) for examples, the park will preserve the site while serving public and educational purposes.

Many preservation and archaeology professionals have already been active in the dialogue over the Clinton tan yard archaeological site and heartily support the Old Clinton Historical Society’s efforts in pursuing an archaeological park. If you would like to join the discussion of future plans for the site, please contact Kate Ryan, Programs Manager at The Georgia Trust, at, or respond directly through our blog.

There will be a meeting at the tan yard site on October 10th, 2009 at 11am for an open discussion and brainstorming session on what can and should be done to protect this significant area in central Georgia. If you are interested in attending, please contact Kate Ryan. The meeting will coincide with the Ocmulgee Archaeological Society (OAS) and Old Clinton Historical Society’s Artifact ID Day from 1-4pm. The OAS identifies artifacts for the public for free, allowing individuals the opportunity to tell the OAS the location of where artifacts are being found so that future studies could be conducted.

The Georgia Trust partners with the Georgia Theatre

Story by Jamie Gumbrecht, Access Atlanta

Georgia Theatre owner Wilmot Greene sent a list of (mostly) upbeat news about how the music venue is coming together since it was gutted by a fire in June.

The biggest news, he said, is that they can now accept donations through the non-profit Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, which means donations are tax deductible. Want to toss some cash in? Send your contribution to The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, Attn: Kate Ryan, 1516 Peachtree St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30309. Write “The Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund” in the memo line. Online donation forms should be available online within the week, too.

UPDATE: The Georgia Trust often partners with groups trying to rehab certain buildings, but this is the first time it has partnered with a for-profit entity in this way, said Mark McDonald, the president and chief executive of the Trust. He told me Wednesday that Greene approached the Trust shortly after the fire about channeling donations through them. Trust representatives decided it was “well within the Trust’s mission” to help preserve the building.

“It’s benefiting the Georgia Theatre, the public, downtown Athens and the musical culture of Athens,” McDonald said. “It was a critical need. Without some kind of subsidy, we’d have the demolition of the facade.”

McDonald said any donations coming in earmarked for The Georgia Theatre Rebuilding Fund will be placed in a restricted account. When construction begins, bills submitted to the Trust will be paid from that account.

Greene’s note included several other updates, too, but the only part that seemed less than excited: “Initial construction estimates are coming in and are quite scary.”

Here are more updates about the beloved venue where the Athens music scene grew:

  • Bracing and stabilization plans were recently approved by by Athens officials, so demolition can start.
  • They’ve got architects and “plans are looking GREAT!”
  • Big benefit shows are in the works, but Greene said they’re not announcing anything yet. Still, has a steady list of benefits and volunteer events to help the theater rebuild.
  • The theater has formed an alliance with University of Georgia’s music business program. Greene said they’ll help the theater raise money, and when they’ve rebuilt, they’ll pledge money back to the school. The theater had hired a lot of their graduates before, and helped them land jobs with national touring acts every year. Also very cool: “We plan on emphasizing our educational component and including space for training facilities in the new interior.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Member Spotlight

The Terrell-Stone House, before and after its rehabilitation through The Trust's Revolving Fund.

With more than a decade supporting and assisting The Georgia Trust, Sara and Fred Hoyt are a pair of our most prized members. Their dedication to The Trust's efforts, particularly in their native Atlanta, has been a cornerstone of our work, and we thank them for all they have done.

Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt married shortly after Mr. Hoyt's graduation from Georgia Tech in 1947, and have made their home in Atlanta ever since, raising three children and benefiting the community through their civic efforts.

In their work with The Trust, the Hoyts have been particularly instrumental in the development and implementation of The Trust's Revolving Fund program. The Revolving Fund Program was established to provide effective alternatives to the demolition or neglect of architecturally and historically significant properties by promoting their rehabilitation and monitoring their preservation in perpetuity.

If you are interested in suggesting a property for this incredible program or you are interested in purchasing a home currently available, please contact Kate Ryan via email or telephone at (404)885-7817.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hear Mark McDonald and other leading Georgia preservationists speak at Historic Columbus Foundation's "Preservation for Profit," a technical education

Preservation for Profit Thur.-Fri., August 20-21, 2009 Columbus, Georgia

Historic Columbus Foundation will offer a technical education workshop August 20th and 21st aimed to directly address some of the financial incentives and benefits available to historic preservation projects. The day and a half long seminar will be filled with a series of experts from the public and private realm ranging from GA Trust President and CEO, Mark McDonald, to Atlanta developer of the Empire Building Craig Taylor. The six speakers will highlight: State and federal tax credits, tax credit syndication, design related preservation issues, economics of historic preservation, and finally a presentation of a local preservation case study, the Empire building located at the intersection of 12th Street and 1st Avenue. The program will run from 9:00am to 4:30pm on Thursday, August 20th at the WC Bradley Co. AV Room and a half day session will run from 9:00am to 12noon Friday, August 21st at the CB&T Community Room. As an incentive to attend, continuing education credit hours will be offered to realtors and architects. Cost of the workshop will be $50 for members and $75 for non-members (lunch on Thursday will be provided). Space will be limited to 75 participants. For more information or to RSVP please contact Justin Krieg at 706-322-0756 or

Financial Incentives - Participants of the workshop will gain a working knowledge of both state and federal tax incentive programs. Tax incentives and tax credits play a key role in making preservation projects easier to finance and more profitable to complete. There are a variety of tax programs which range in complexity and our speakers will describe the ins and outs of the application process as well as the benefits of each program. Ced Dolder from the State Historic Preservation Office will speak on the details of tax credits and Mark McDonald from the Georgia Trust will give an overview of fa├žade easements and an update on the latest preservation legislation.

Sustainable Design – With the “green” movement in full swing it is appropriate to have some discussion on how historic properties fit within the sustainable context. Pratt Cassity will speak about the specific benefits of sustainable design and historic preservation. Historic preservation and downtown revitalization are vital to sustainable development on the levels of both environmental and economic responsibility. They are what make cities viable, livable, and equitable.

Tax Credit Syndication – One of the most difficult and complicated parts of a rehabilitation/restoration project is coming up with the financing. Andrew Ham with Urban Trust Capital, Inc. out of Atlanta will discuss tax credits and how they can be used to build equity for a project on the front end of construction. His firm specializes in matching investors with preservation projects while taking advantage of the state and federal tax credits. In many cases, the investors and work Andrew puts into a project can make the difference between a project being a success or never getting off the ground.

Economics of Preservation – Historic preservation not only provides the community with a look into the past, it can also generate a significant amount of money. Preservation projects and communities dedicated to promoting the preservation of historic properties have seen an increase in tourism, property values, and a greater quality of life. Kennedy Lawson Smith with the Community Land Use and Economics Group (CLUE) will speak about why this happens and how a community can capitalize on preservation projects.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Justin Krieg at 706-322-0756 or

Friday, August 14, 2009

Celebrate Georgia's Historic Sites and Resources

This weekend is the perfect opportunity to explore the historic treasures Georgia has to offer. Below is a list of sites that would make for a fabulous weekend excursion!

Barnsley Gardens
Civil War Commission
Cumberland Island
Dahlonega Gold Museum
Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site
Gordon-Lee Mansion
Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails
Lee and Gordon's Mills
The Georgia State Archives
The Historic Chattahoochee Commission
Roselawn Museum
Traveler's Rest
Tybee Island Light Station
William Harris Homestead Foundation, Monroe

Apex Museum, Atlanta

Art Station, Stone Mountain
Atlanta Cyclorama, Atlanta
Atlanta History Center, Atlanta
Atlanta Preservation Center, Atlanta (Grant Mansion)
Bulloch Hall, Roswell
Chastain Arts Center, Atlanta
Elisha Winn House, Dacula, GA
Georgia Archives, Atlanta
Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta
Hammonds House Galleries, Atlanta
Herndon Home, Atlanta
Historic Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta
Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum, Fayetteville
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, Atlanta
Lawrenceville Female Seminary, Lawrenceville - 770-822-5178
Mable House, Mableton
Margaret Mitchell House & Museum, Atlanta
Marietta Museum of History, Marietta
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta
Old Courthouse On The Square, Decatur
Rhodes Hall, Atlanta
Root House Museum, Marietta
Sandy Springs Historic Site and Park, Atlanta
Smith Plantation, Roswell
Southeastern Railway Museum, Duluth
Stately Oaks Plantation, Jonesboro
Stone Mountain Park Antebellum Plantation, Stone Mountain
The Wren’s Nest, Atlanta

Remember to call or check the sites website for hours as some state run historic sites have shortened their hours of operation due to the economy and budget restraints.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Member Spotlight

The Georgia Trust was very fortunate to have had three wonderful interns this summer. This week, we would like to thank Anna Goldstein, the Communications Intern, for her dedication and service this summer.

Originally from Belmont, Massachusetts, Anna is a senior at Wellesley College outside of Boston, Massachusetts majoring in Urban Studies with a concentration in Urban History. Over the course of the summer, she aided the Communications Director, Traci Clark, by maintaining different media lists and writing articles for The Rambler.

We are so grateful for Anna and all of the hard work she put in this summer and wish her the best of luck in her senior year.

If you are interested in becoming an intern in the Communications Department, please contact Traci Clark at or 404.885.7802.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Engangered Propety: E.M. Rogers House

E M Rogers House
128 N. Hutchinson Ave.
Adel, GA 31620
c. 1907

Constructed by Mr. William H. Baskin in 1907, owner and operator of a local lumber mill, this home was a copy of the house built next door in 1905 by the Juhan family. Mr. Baskin sold the Queen Anne cottage in 1913 to Mr. E. M. Rogers, who purchased it for his bride, Mellie Parrish. It remained in the Rogers family until recently.

Mr. Baskin built the one-story house with 14 ft. ceilings, heart-pine floors and a steeply pitched hipped roof. The house, with 2,000 sq. ft., has seven rooms, two full bathrooms, six fireplaces, wide baseboards and ceiling cornices. A small portion of the porch has been enclosed for use as a greenhouse. The 1/2 acre property has lovely gardens and three outbuildings.

The house is in good condition, but requires some cosmetic work, wood repair and window repair. The kitchen and bathrooms need updating. The mechanical systems, including plumbing and electrical, need updating as well.

The E. M. Rogers House is located in downtown Adel. From Atlanta: Take I-75 South below Tifton to Exit 39. Off the ramp, turn left toward Adel on Ga. Hwy. 37. Turn left on Hutchinson Avenue and the house is on the corner of Hutchinson and 3rd Street.

The Rogers house is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and, if listed, several financial incentives, including an 8 1/2 year tax abatement and tax credits for substantial rehabilitation.

The Georgia Trust is a non-profit statewide preservation organization, part of a network of local, state and national organizations dedicated to the preservation of significant historic resources. The Revolving Fund Program was established to provide effective alternatives to demolition or neglect of architecturally and historically significant properties by promoting their rehabilitation and monitoring their preservation in perpetuity. A buyer of a Revolving Fund property is required to sign a Rehabilitation Agreement and donate an Architectural and Preservation Easement to The Georgia Trust. The easement, which ensures the historic integrity of the property is retained, is attached to the deed in perpetuity.

Price REDUCED: $49,000
Original price: $110,000

For more information, contact:
Kate Ryan
Programs Manager

Thursday, August 6, 2009

2009 Fall Ramble to Washington, Georgia

The 2009 Fall Ramble to Washington, Georgia, September 18-19,

is approaching quickly!

Hotel rooms are booking fast and we're looking forward to a great weekend. Here is some important information you will need in planning your trip.


Ramble Registration

Friday - 11 - 5 - Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center - 29 West Square

Saturday - 8:30 - 10:30 - First Baptist Church - 105 West Robert Toombs Avenue



As some of you have already discovered, there is limited hotel space in Washington. However, there are many Bed and Breakfasts. Please consult the Washington Wilkes website and as well as

If you would rather stay in a hotel, here are some accommodations that are located near Washington:

Thomson - 25 Miles from Washington- Click HERE for directions from hotels to Washington.

White Columns Inn

Holiday Inn Express

Other hotels in Thomson

Elberton - 30 Miles from Washington - Click HERE for directions from hotels to Washington.

Econolodge Elberton

Holiday Inn Express - 706.283.8811

Other hotels in Elberton

Athens - 43 Miles from Washington - Click HERE for directions from hotels to Washington.

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn Express

Hilton Garden Inn

Other hotels in Athens


If you have any additional questions, please contact Mary Railey Binns

at 404.885.7812 or

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Member Spotlight

At the Trust, we know we are particularly lucky to benefit from the excellent work of dedicated volunteers and interns, like Caitlin Zygmont, who worked in the membership department this summer.

A graduate student of GSU's Heritage Preservation program, Caitlin found her calling in preservation after working at Coca-Cola and Comcast. Her background in corporate sales provided her with excellent training for her efforts on the Trust's behalf as we work to relaunch our business membership program. Caitlin has creativity, commitment and pluck that all of us at the Trust admire and enjoy, and that we are sure will serve her well as she enters the final year of her graduate studies.

We are also grateful that Caitlin will be working on behalf of the Trust as we begin to prepare for our annual Preservation Bash. Her efforts on all fronts are appreciated.

If you are interested in volunteering for our special events, including the Preservation Bash and semiannual Rambles, please email Mary Railey Binns.