Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Member Spotlight

Today the Trust is proud to recognize two dedicated individuals, Mr. Cullen Chambers of the Tybee Island Historical Society and Mr. Ed Cawley of the Fort Screven Preservation Organization, who recently joined forces to help save one of the Trust's 2009 Places in Peril, Battery Backus on Tybee Island.

Battery Backus was one of the seven powerful gun emplacements that protected Fort Screven. Construction on the fortifications began as the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898 and continued into the early 1900s. Recently, the Battery's owner, Lou Kietzman, sought a permit to build two single-family homes on the historic site, but thanks to the dilligence of these two local activists, he did not succeed.

Mr. Chambers, pictured here with the Tybee Island Lighthouse, heads up the Tybee Island Historical Society, and he was among the early advocates for Battery Backus. Director of the Tybee Island Historical Society since 1994, Mr. Chambers tirelessly advocates for the continued recognition and preservation of Tybee Island as well as other coastal Georgia sites.

Mr. Cawley, President of The Fort Screven Preservation Organization, seen here with Battery Backus, has dilligently toiled on behalf of Fort Screven for many years, working specifically to protect its various batteries from development. While Lou Kietzman has promised to appeal the recent decision, he will encounter the same resistance and commitment from Mr. Cawley and the Fort Screven Preservation Organization.

Please join the Trust as we announce the 2010 Places in Peril at Rhodes Hall on November 4th. Learn about Georgia's most endangered historic resources and help us work to save them!
Watch the Trust's events page for more updates.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2009 Places in Peril: Battery Backus, Tybee Island

Development at historic gun site shot down

State panel denies permit for construction at Tybee's Battery Backus

Posted: September 26, 2009 - 7:17am

Located in the Fort Screven National Historic District, Battery Backus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lou Kietzman bought the battery in 2007 for $1 million. His attempt last year to sell the beach-front property for $2.1 million landed it on the 2009 list of "10 Places in Peril" compiled by the Georgia Trust.

On Friday, the five-member Shore Protection Committee voted unanimously to deny the permit for construction in what's considered the "dynamic dune area" under the Shore Protection Act.

"The battery is an indispensable part of the sand dune system," said Lesley Mattingly, a committee member.

Mark McDonald, president and CEO of the Georgia Trust and a former head of the Historic Savannah Foundation, said that criticism spoke to the trust's best argument: Any construction would require penetration through the battery and would have a negative effect on the dune.

"We're delighted in the ruling and think it's very important that people consider that environmental and historic conservation are sometimes inextricably linked," he said.

Mattingly also noted she was concerned with the disruption to a historical property "to the degree to which the committee can enter into it." The Shore Protection Committee, which also operates as the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee, isn't charged directly with protecting historical structures but was advised to take into consideration the Heritage Preservation Act.

Battery Backus was one of the seven powerful gun emplacements that gave Fort Screven its firepower. Construction on the fortifications began as the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898 and continued into the early 1900s.

Tybee residents Jamie Maury, Dan Snyder and Director of the Fort Screven Preservation Organization, Ed Cawley, all of whom live near Battery Backus, spoke against the development at Friday's meeting in Midway. So did Cullen Chambers, executive director of the Tybee Island Historical Society.

Afterwards, they seemed astonished their pleas had been heeded by the panel.

"I can't believe it," Chambers said. "This is a victory for historic preservation not only on Tybee but all of coastal Georgia."

"They did their watchdog work," Maury said.

Kietzman said he plans to appeal the decision.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hands On Restoration Training Workshop in Acworth

Today is the last day to register for the hands-on restoration training workshop in Acworth, offered through the Cobb County Community Development, Panning Division. The workshop will take place this Friday October 2nd. For more information and to register for the workshop, visit or contact Mandy Elliott, Cobb County Historic Preservation Planner at

Friday, September 25, 2009

2009 Places in Peril: Fort Daniel

Story/significance: Built in the late 18th century, the archaeological site of Fort Daniel was once a frontier fort located on Hog Mountain in Gwinnett County. The archaeological remains of the fort are being studied by several interested groups. Excavations have revealed a stockade wall trench, a hearth where cooking and casting of shot was carried out, brick and burned lumber, and a trash pit. Artifacts recovered from the site include historic pottery, black bottle glass, musket balls, musket flint, wrought nails, and an 18th-century Spanish coin.

Challenge/threat: The site is located on privately owned property; the property and its surrounding lots are for sale. A developer has already sought a zoning change to allow commercial development of the properties. Development of the property would destroy this significant archaeological site.

Progress: On December 8, 2008, The Georgia Trust participated in a spotlight event intended to raise public awareness of this archaeological site, the significance of the artifacts found there, and future plans for interpreting the site. Using a $5,000 matching grant awarded as part of the Partners in the Field program, the Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society and the Friends of Fort Daniel produced a master plan for a proposed Archaeological Park at the site of Fort Daniel. The Atlanta planning and landscape group, jB+a inc, created a graphic display of the master plan to serve as a marketing tool to raise awareness for the site and its protection. The plan unveiled was at an interpretive event on May 2, 2009, and was well received among neighbors at the Fort Daniel site.

Impacts/outcomes: The Fort Daniel Foundation has been created with the express purpose to raise funds to support the study and protection of the archaeological site. The Foundation plans to implement its plans for an archaeological park that would allow for recreation to occur while ongoing archaeological study continues. This would be the first park of its type in the southeast.

Next Steps: The Georgia Trust continues to work with the Fort Daniel Foundation for the procurement of the property. Further talks are needed between the current property owner, the Fort Daniel Foundation, and Gwinnett County to ensure that appropriate protection occurs.

Update: The Friends of Fort Daniel has officially become the Fort Daniel Foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. In May, a master plan for the proposed Fort Daniel Historic
Site and Archaeological Research Park was made possible by a grant from The Georgia Trust.

A Significant Victory on Tybee Island

The Trust has just received word that a developer interested in developing two single family residences on the site of 2009 Place in Peril Battery Backus has been denied permission by local authorities. This a significant step towards securing Battery Backus.

The Trust congratulates the Tybee Island Historical Society, the Fort Screven Preservation Organization, and other coalition members who have campaigned on behalf of this important historic resource.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Washington News-Reporter Coverage of the 2009 Fall Ramble

Georgia Trust Ramble brings fourth visit to historic homes to see 'treasure in our state'
- The News-Reporter

Docent Bill Ramsur tells Georgia Trust Fall Ramble visitors about the restoration of the Gilbert-Alexander-Wright home.
Photo: Kip Burke
Some 275 members of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation braved occasional torrents of rain Friday and Saturday as their annual Fall Ramble returned for a fourth visit to the historic homes and churches of Washington and Wilkes County.

"We were overjoyed by the quality of the historic sites that were open to our members and are very grateful to the people of Washington, especially our planning committee led by Betty Slaton," said Mark C. McDonald, President and CEO of The Georgia Trust. "Washington is such a treasure in our state. It contains so many wonderful buildings that are extremely well-preserved."

The local planning committee led by Slaton included Ashley Barnett, Peggy Barnett, Betty Jackson, Jane Bundy, and Katharine Sanders.

The Trust gained 45 new members at the Fall Ramble, he said. New members were welcomed at a reception at Wisteria Hall Friday evening.

Visitors agreed that the highlight of the Ramble was the first public showing of Robert Aiken's magnificent ongoing restoration of Fairfield Plantation, the Gilbert-Alexander- Wright home in Washington. "We were most pleased to see the Gilbert- Alexander-Wright home," McDonald said. "It is a perfect example of what preservation is all about. Robert Aiken is doing a wonderful job of rehabilitating and presenting one of Washington's most historic homes."

After touring several homes and churches in the Danburg area of Wilkes County - causing the only traffic jam Danburg has seen in decades - Ramblers enjoyed a reception and dinner on the grounds of Bill and B.J. Degolian's Peacewood Plantation.

Saturday morning found Ramblers enjoying breakfast at Washington's First Baptist Church catered by Alfred's On The Square, followed by orientation in the sanctuary. After welcoming comments from Wilkes County Commission Chairman Sam Moore and Washington City Councilman Ames Barnett, Dr. Mark Waters spoke on the historic importance of Wilkes County and the varied architectural styles seen throughout the county. Lunch, catered by Talk of the Town2, was hosted by the First United Methodist Church.

Many of those attending the Ramble also visited Cherry Cottage, a Georgia Trust Revolving Fund property that is for sale "to the right person who is willing to restore this home to its original charm."

Visitors to the Ramble came from all over Georgia, the South, and even from New Jersey. "We've had a wonderful time, rain and all," said Liz McClure of Cashiers, N.C. "Washington is just the most exquisite town in Georgia, and just has a coziness and sophistication in its casually elegant old plantations."

"Office Cat" coverage of the 2009 Washington Fall Ramble

Lots of rain but not like Atlanta

The Office Cat

From all reports, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Fall Ramble in Wilkes County last weekend was a tremendous success. There were more than 275 people registered for the event and it seemed that they were "all over everywhere." I'm sure they spent some money in Washington- Wilkes in addition to their lodging and food. In spite of all the rain, I've heard nothing but very good compliments on every aspect of the Ramble. After touring several homes and churches in the Danburg area Friday afternoon, they enjoyed dinner at Peacewood Plantation on the Tignall Road and no complaints were heard about the rain or mud. After an early-morning breakfast at the First Baptist Church, catered by Jean Davis-Blair and her efficient crew from Alfred's On The Square, the ramblers adjourned to the church sanctuary where our

Mark Waters told them all about Washington-Wilkes, and "The Lost Gold of the Confederacy." I wasn't there, but I've heard that his presentation was very well received. . . . From about 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., they toured Washington homes, museums, churches, and the Mary Willis Library, stopping long enough to have lunch at the First United Methodist Church. . . . I was privileged to tour the newly-restored

Gilbert-Alexander-Wright Home which has been the pride and joy of Robert Aiken and his fine crew of workers. Kurt Wolfe graciously showed me some of the "behind the scenes" problems and solutions of the restoration. One of the rooms which "has not been touched yet" was as I remember having seen it in the 1960s when it was the home of Alexander and Lotte Wright. . . . I hope that it can be open to the public soon.

Something that I especially enjoyed at Fairfield Plantation (The Gilbert-Alexander-Wright home) was the grounds which are beautiful and immaculate. Just outside the back door is a very large Buckeye tree. As children, we searched the woods for buckeyes so that we could keep one in our pocket for "good luck," but the trees that we saw were so tall we never actually saw how the fruit was produced. This tree at Fairfield was loaded with buckeyes and they had not yet opened to discharge the buckeyes. . . . Another interesting planting was a pomegranate tree or bush. We had one in the yard at our home (the Rider house) when I was a child and I had forgotten what interesting plants they are.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2009 Fall Ramble to Washington, Georgia

Our thanks to all that attended the 2009 Fall Ramble to Washington, Georgia and Wilkes County. Despite the rainy weather, the weekend was a huge success with the biggest turnout in recent years - over 270 Ramblers rambled and wandered through Wilkes County and downtown Washington on September 18 and 19!

The Georgia Trust would like to thank the Washington Ramble Committee: Betty Slaton, Chair, Ashley Barnett, Peggy Barnett, Jane Bundy, Betty Jackson, and Katharine Sanders, as well as all of the property owners who so graciously opened their homes over the weekend, and the Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce!

Museum Day 2009

Free admission Saturday on Museum Day

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When Smithsonian magazine launched Museum Day, in which cultural spaces nationwide emulate the Smithsonian Institution’s free admission policy, it seemed novel. Five years later, in a pinched economy, it feels more like a necessity.

On Saturday, nine metro Atlanta museums and historic sites will participate by opening their doors gratis to visitors.

Participating will be the Archibald Smith Plantation Home, Roswell; Barrington Hall, Roswell; Bulloch Hall, Roswell; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Health Odyssey Museum, Atlanta; the Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta; the Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Marietta Museum of History; and the Museum of Design Atlanta.

Among the metro participants, the puppetry center offers a nice array of family-friendly options, with its “Puppets: The Power of Wonder” museum show plus three Jim Henson exhibits. Also, three performances of the family series show “The Adventures of the Gingerbread Man” will be half-price; the discounted tickets include free entrance to the center’s Create-A-Puppet Workshop.

For those interested in making a day trip, there are some worthy options, including the Bartow History Museum, the Booth Western Art Museum and the Tellus Northwest Georgia Science Museum, all in Cartersville; and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the Hay House and the Museum of Arts and Sciences, in Macon.

With 1,200 museums in all 50 states registered, Museum Day 2009 is the largest ever. To print out an admission card, good for two people, and see a complete list of participants, go to http:// museumday/admission.html.

Member Spotlight

The Mitchell family takes part in the first Uptown Rhodes Race, benefiting the Georgia Trust.

Atlanta is a city full of neighborhoods worth fighting for, and this week the Trust spotlights one of Buckhead's chief advocates, Wright Mitchell. Wright and his family have made their home in Buckhead, and they have courageously set to work maintaining its integrity and defending its endangered places.

An Atlanta native, Wright has a deep respect for his hometown's architectural heritage and legacy. He currently serves on the board of both the Georgia Trust, where he serves as Vice Chairman, and the Atlanta Preservation Center. In 2006, he founded the Buckhead Heritage Society, in order to protect and promote the historic resources of the Atlanta community.

Wright serves as partner at Constangy Brooks & Smith, LLP, a firm which has recently taken on pro bono representation for plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit to preserve the historic Mount Olive Cemetery in Buckhead. All of us at the Trust wish them luck in this important preservation battle, and thank Wright for his leadership and support.

If you would like to get involved in preservation efforts in Georgia, please contact Lindsay Cronk to learn more about volunteer opportunities.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Georgia Theatre owner pitches blend of food, music and museum

By BLAKE AUED | | Story updated at 12:10 am on 9/17/2009

The Georgia Theatre's owner says he wants the rebuilt music venue to become a tourist attraction and the centerpiece of the downtown Athens music scene.

Wilmot Greene wants to submit plans as early as next month to rebuild the Georgia Theatre, he said, which was gutted by fire in June.

According to conceptual drawings Greene and architects showed the Athens-Clarke Historic Preservation Commission on Wednesday, the rebuilt theater will closely resemble its pre-fire self, with the exception of a rooftop bar and restaurant.

Inside, Greene said he plans to improve the balcony and bathrooms, add a more powerful air-conditioning system and turn the mezzanine level where the office used to be into a museum.

Members of the Historic Preservation Commission, a panel with the power to approve development in local historic districts like downtown, praised the early plans at an informal hearing Wednesday.

"It gives the tourist or the local person a reason to go into this historic building and enjoy it," HPC member Alexander Sams said.

The building dates back to the late 19th century and served as a hotel, YMCA and movie theater before it was converted into a music venue in the 1970s. It is known for its Art Deco architecture.

Greene said he was inspired by the number of patrons who come from all across North Georgia and college towns like Clemson, S.C., and Auburn, Ala., for concerts.

"It's amazing how many tickets we sold to people who aren't from Athens," he said. "I always stood back at the bar thinking 'Who are all these people? Where did they all come from?' "

Architects hope the work of restoring the theater can begin early next year, and Greene said his goal is to re-open by New Year's Eve 2010.

The rooftop bar restaurant, a partnership with local caterers White Tiger Gourmet, will be open for lunch and sometimes dinner, drawing people who are interested in history but not necessarily music. It also will serve as a "quiet space" to take a break during concerts, Greene said. Only acoustic performers will play on the roof, he said.

The museum on the mezzanine level will feature local art, sculptures and plaques with the names of donors who helped pay to rebuild it, Greene said.

Greene has raised only $3,000 so far through a partnership with the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, but has not ironed out all the details to begin really raising money through the nonprofit to restore the theater's facade, he said.

Greene has said he does not think his insurance and a bank loan will be enough to cover his debt and the cost of rebuilding the theater.

He has hired Birmingham, Ala.-based Davis Architects, the same firm that is designing a new parking deck next door to the Georgia Theatre, to handle the rebuilding project. The theater and deck projects will not interfere with each other, architects said.

2009 Place in Peril: Campbell Chapel AME Church

The Story: Campbell Chapel has served Americus’ oldest black congregation since 1920. This Romanesque Revival Church with Queen Anne style details was designed by Georgia’s first registered African American architect Louis H. Persley. The church has served the community as worship space, hosted educational and political meetings, and held graduation exercises from 1957-1969 for local African American students.

The Threat: The church’s structural integrity is threatened by lack of maintenance. The twisting and sagging of interior trusses and beams are the result of deteriorated mortar and faulty flashing at the bell tower. Additional problems with moisture have contributed to rotting windows and floors, and a collapsed ceiling. Recently the 700+ pound bell collapsed from its rotted ceiling members and crashed to the ground floor.

The Solution: The church has been recently inspected by structural engineers, architects, and contractors. Because the church’s structural safety is questionable, services have been temporarily relocated. The small, elderly congregation recently raised funds for roof repairs, but the high cost of restoration remains the church’s biggest obstacle to preserving their historic church.

Update: Pastor Lodenia Coleman and strongly committed church members continue to raise funds for the stabilization of the building.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Economic downturn provides a breather for preservationists

Economic downturn provides a breather for preservationists

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The bulldozers have gone silent and Atlanta’s historic structures are — for the most part — getting a breather.

The recession that has paralyzed construction means old structures aren’t getting scraped and replaced with the frequency or fervor that three years ago caused the Georgia Trust for Historic Places to put the entire Virginia-Highland neighborhood on its annual Places in Peril list.

When times are good, historic preservationists can’t keep up with developers. Now, they say, there’s time to inventory historic properties and structures and try to persuade owners to conserve rather than demolish.

“The tear-downs were always a threat; there were many antebellum homes on large tracts of land being developed,” said Daryl Barksdale, until recently the executive director of the Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society. “That pressure is gone. The developmental flood has gone away. It’s a time to take stock of your organization and see what was important.”

Preservationists are taking the down time to tend “most endangered structures” lists and reach out to property owners to see if they will work with the groups in preserving their structures or even donating them to the public for tax breaks.

Those are the silver linings, but there are still dark clouds.

Large historic rehabilitation projects have essentially halted, causing some structures to be threatened with “demolition by deterioration.” Foreclosures also threaten to put historical properties in the hands of owners not inclined to work with preservation groups.

And generating funding, always a challenge for these nonprofit groups, has been especially difficult, causing layoffs and cutbacks for many. Barksdale, who was with Cobb Landmarks for eight years, recently changed careers after the organization cut her hours.

As the recession winds on, here are some metro area preservation leaders’ observations on the current environment.

Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation

The recession is “having a profound effect on nonprofit organizations across the board. We’ve laid off three people and have two more positions unfilled,“ said Mark McDonald, president of Georgia Trust. “The silver lining is we’re not seeing the battlefields being gobbled up. It was hard to keep up with what sites were coming next. It was like a barrage of artillery fire. It does give us a little bit of a breather to take stock of what there is.

“The downturn in the economy has hurt historic rehabilitation, especially the big projects,” he said. Ambitious plans to convert old mills and manufacturing plants into lofts and bistros will remain just plans. Anecdotally, he said, the number of small historic home renovations are up as more people stay in their homes.

There have been preservation victories, including a property on Georgia Trust’s 2009 “Places in Peril” list: the Crum and Forster Building on Spring Street. The city last month granted landmark status for the three-story building with a Renaissance facade of columns and arches. The Georgia Tech Foundation had sought to demolish it for possible expansion of the Technology Square project.

Georgia Trust is now working with developers/owners of four properties to get them donated, McDonald said. “It’s a buyer’s market right now,” he said. “We should have a nice inventory of historic buildings.”

Once donated, the organization works to get people to take over the properties and rehabilitate them in an agreed-upon manner. McDonald likens it to the “ugly puppies” adoption drives at animal shelters — “free to good home.”

Also, he is talking with bankers about placing easements limiting future development on foreclosed tracts of land in exchange for tax write-offs. “That’s another thing this craziness is creating,” he said. “This is so new, we have to think anew.”

Cobb Landmarks & History Society

Ongoing funding problems caught up with the group when it lost its director, Barksdale, who moved to another job.

“She was working full-time but we were paying her part-time,” said Cobb Landmarks’ preservation chairman, Richard Todd. “We had to really cut back. Fund-raising opportunities are thin.”

Like the Georgia Trust, Cobb Landmarks is “keeping a public eye” on historic properties, talking to owners and trying to persuade them to retain the historical structures or at least shore them up until they can be renovated.

“The best we can do is to keep attention on them; it’s a mode now of buying time,” he said.

The organization helped get money to repair the Acworth Rosenwald School. Work was completed this year. The 85-year-old structure was built by the Julius Rosenwald School Building Fund, a philanthropic drive that built public schools for black children in the early 20th century.

Cobb Landmarks is also working to save a series of trenches from the Civil War Battle of Kennesaw Mountain that are on parcels of land in private hands. The organization is trying to get landowners to donate part of their property to the county for “pocket parks.”

Buckhead Heritage Society

The organization came together over a small, forgotten cemetery called Harmony Grove that was ultimately preserved. This month, it spearheaded a lawsuit to save Mt. Olive Cemetery, which served a small black community that was forced out of Buckhead in the 1940s and 1950s. A land speculator who bought the 0.17-acre sliver of land adjoining Frankie Allen Park is seeking permission from the city to relocate the graves.

“Mt. Olive Cemetery is the last remnant that this community was there,” said Christine McCauley, executive director of the heritage society. “They helped build Buckhead. We don’t want to lose this last piece of history.”

The organization has been growing, getting 400 people in the past nine months to fund sponsorships averaging $130.

“We’re trying to inventory all our historic structures in Buckhead,” she said. “We’re doing a lot of education. We want people in Buckhead to be aware of their history and their historic structures. If people understand the value of their history then they are more likely to protect it.”

Atlanta Preservation Center

In April, the Atlanta Preservation Center sponsored its annual Buckhead in Bloom tour featuring “eight of Atlanta’s most exquisite houses and gardens open to the public.” One was the Cocke House, described as “a 1934 Georgian Revival on Valley Road with lavish gardens and an interior lovingly decorated with family heirlooms and antiques.”

By the summer, the house was gone, demolished by a builder who, according to the building permit, plans to build a single family home worth $5 million. Boyd Coons, the Preservation Center’s executive director, said at least one more historic Tuxedo Park home nearby also has been leveled.

“Those who still have money do as they choose,” he said. The organization likes to call itself “the eyes and ears of historic preservation in Atlanta,” but Coons admits “we’re often the last ones to know” about a developer’s plans.

“You think we could catch our breath, but we haven’t,” he said.

The Preservation Center helped lead the charge to save the Crum & Forster building near Tech, and is keeping an eye on several potential redevelopments, including Pullman Yards in the Kirkwood area; Murray Mill, an 1800s cotton gin in northwest Atlanta; and the Beltline, the 22 miles of abandoned railroad lines around Atlanta envisioned as the site of mixed-use developments, parks and transit. He said many older structures in that path are endangered — especially in lower-income areas.

One other potential for trouble, said Philip Covin, who chairs the organization’s advocacy committee, is “historic structures going into foreclosure. There’s property trading hands, and we don’t know who [the new owners] are or what their plans are.”

Most notable in that realm is Inman Park Properties, which has bought and renovated several historic structures and recently has had properties in the foreclosure process or put up for sale.

Among properties owned by Inman Park are: the Clermont Hotel; the Hilan Theatre, an Art Deco space in Virginia Highland; the Castle in Midtown; the DAR building on Piedmont Road and the Wrecking Bar, a 1900 Victorian house on Moreland Avenue.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Member Spotlight

The Georgia Trust has benefited from an influx of Board leadership this year, including the sterling addition of Bertram Maxwell IV, who also serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees at Hay House.

After attending Furman University to complete his degree in business administration, Mr. Maxwell returned home to work at his father's furniture business in Macon. He is an active civic leader and a community advocate. His impressive dedication to his hometown is exemplified by his efforts on behalf of Hay House, which have included acting as co-chair of the 2007 and 2009 Seasons of the Vineyard events.

Both the Trust and Hay House have benefited from Mr. Maxwell's tireless advocacy and business acumen, though Mr. Maxwell offers his own assessment, "The success of Hay House has not come from me but those before me, those around me, and the continued hard work of those after me... I have the privilege of giving the go ahead to Katey Brown's great ideas."

A humble and gracious preservation proponent, Mr. Maxwell's positive attitude and outlook benefit us all. We hope you'll join us at Hay House for an exciting line-up of special events including the the fun and family-friendly Hay Days 1950s on October 10th and 2009 Seasons of the Vineyard wine-tasting on November 5.

2009 Places in Peril: Bibb Mill

The Story: This 1898 mill on the Chattahoochee River was purchased by Bibb Manufacturing in 1900. During the early 20th century, Bibb Manufacturing expanded the mill and developed the surrounding community of Bibb City for its mill workers. During the 1960's and 70's Bibb Manufacturing’s business began to slow and several mills were sold. By the mid 1990's, the company went through bankruptcy and eventually was sold to a corporation in Virginia. Columbus’ Bibb Mill was purchased by a private developer.

The Threat: The current owner has been searching for a way to rehabilitate the mill and has rehabilitated several historic buildings on the site as a conference facility. However, several warehouses have been demolished and last fall the owner received a demolition permit for most of the main mill, a 676,000 square foot structure.

The Solution: After receiving the demolition permit, the owner agreed to meet with The National Trust, The Georgia Trust, and other advisors to explore feasible development options and alternatives to demolition, but its immense size makes rehabilitation a multi-phase, complicated project.

UPDATE — Oct. 30, 2008
The Georgia Trust received news this morning that Bibb Mill, an 1898 textile mill, was destroyed by fire last night, just two weeks after it was listed on The Georgia Trust’s 2009 list of Places in Peril.

According to news sources, the fire started shortly after midnight Thursday. Firefighters worked until about 6 a.m. to extinguish flames that engulfed much of the 700,000 sq. ft. building. Small fires inside the building were contained shortly thereafter. The nearby conference center and neighboring houses were saved. The cause of the fire is not known at this time.

Fire Photo by Camera One

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Georgia Theatre Update

CMA's New Artist of the Year Nominee Zac Brown Band Host & Perform Benefit Show To Revive Iconic Athens, GA Venue

Amid a schedule packed with arenas and amphitheatres, CMA's New Artist of the Year nominee Zac Brown Band will make a hometown stop on their "Breaking Southern Ground" tour this fall for a Georgia Theatre benefit show at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia on October 30. Proceeds from the show will go to rebuild the dearly beloved and recently decommissioned Georgia Theatre. Prior to a devastating fire earlier this year, the movie-palace-turned-music-club hosted performances by all the local legends including R.E.M., B-52s, Drive-By Truckers and Widespread Panic.

“My band and many others have come up playing there," explains Zac Brown. "That building means far more to us, and the community, then its brick and mortar foundation. We want to make sure that it gets proper funding so we can rebuild it better than it was. It will remain a center for art and music long into the future with everyone's help.”

"The Zac Brown Band are showing their incredible generosity and their love for the Athens music scene by hosting this benefit,” says Wilmot Greene, Georgia Theatre owner. “The presence of the Theatre in Athens has allowed bands to find an important early audience that helps to bring bigger success later. That's a big part of the tradition of the Theatre and is an important aspect of why it needs to be rebuilt. This concert will be a huge help."

While the Zac Brown Band are hosting the show and mark the first confirmed performers on the bill, the concert hopes to host a variety other well-known and successful acts who also came up through this legendary local venue. Tickets will cost $100 and are available via Ticketmaster.

Presented by Outback Concerts, proceeds of the show will go directly to The Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund, handled by The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

For more information on Zac Brown Band, please contact Rebecca Shapiro ( or Elizabeth Lutz ( at Shore Fire Media, 718.522.7171 or Sheila Richman at Atlantic Records, 212-707-3063 or Liz Norris at ROAR 917-755-1005

For full tour details visit:

For more on the Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund and how to make donations, visit:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Georgia Trust Launches NEW Website!

The Georgia Trust is excited to announce the launch of our new website! New features include on-line event registration as well the option to join and donate to the Trust online. It's also more user-friendly and easier to navigate. The Georgia Trust would like to acknowledge the SunTrust Bank of Atlanta Foundation for making the creation of our new website possible. Visit our new site at!

2009 Places in Peril: John Berrien House

The Story: The federal style Berrien House in Savannah was built circa 1800 for Revolutionary War officer Major John Berrien. After his death in 1815, John Berrien’s son, John McPherson Berrien, used the house as his principle residence throughout his life while serving as a United States Senator, United States Attorney General and the first president of the Georgia Historical Society. The 3 ½ story wood frame building has a gabled roof, six dormer windows, beaded wooden clapboard, and fine Greek Revival detailing dating to the 1850's. The house is located on Savannah’s main commercial street and was raised on a high foundation in the early 20th-century to allow for retail space on the ground level.

The Threat: The Berrien House has been vacant for more than twenty years. Through the years the site has faced strong development pressures and several demolition permits have been sought and denied. Lack of maintenance and failed rehabilitation efforts have left the severely deteriorated building at risk of demolition by neglect. A mortgage foreclosure has left the house in the ownership of a bank which is evaluating the economic feasibility of the building’s rehabilitation.

The Solution: Historic Savannah Foundation holds a preservation easement on the house and has invested $70,000 in roofing and structural repairs. The Foundation also established a task force to seek strategies for the rehabilitation of this important building.

Update: The Trust is working with the house's owner, Queensboroough National Bank and Historic Savannah Foundation to evaluate rehabilitation options for this late 18th Century Savannah landmark.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Member Spotlight

To many of us at the Trust, Emelyn Arnold is the one who introduced us to Rhodes Hall. She is the one who first made Amos Rhodes's dream live in our imaginations, and she is an incomparable asset as a Visitor Services Coordinator and member.

Raised in a very small town outside of Augusta, Emelyn started studying piano at the age of four. She graduated from Wesleyan College, a women's college in Macon, with a degree in History. She then taught history and obtained her Master’s Degree in History from the University of Georgia. She uses this background to do Rhodes Hall justice when she guides tours, bringing it alive for countless visitors.

As one of her many efforts on behalf of Le Reve, Emelyn arranged for the donation of a piano which will arrive in the coming weeks. We hope that Emelyn will entertain us all with a tune or two, and demonstrate the remarkable voice that takes part in her church choir each week.

Rhodes Hall needs docents, guides, amateur historians and enthusiastic advocates! If you are interested in volunteering at Rhodes Hall, please email Emelyn or call 404-885-7800.