Thursday, October 29, 2009

Member Spotlight

Virginia and Bond Almand Rambling with the Georgia Trust.

It is a pleasure to acknowledge the incredible contributions that Virginia Almand has made to The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation over her many years of membership. A trustee since 2004, it is Virginia's particular commitment to the Trust that has distinguished her. She has been active and involved in the Trust for two decades, and her efforts as a volunteer, committee leader, and advocate have long been an inspiration to all of us.

When the Birmingham native is not Rambling or working to help with one of the Trust's events or campaigns, Virginia can probably be found in the garden. As a volunteer and board member, Virginia works with the Southeastern Flower Show, and has earned several Certificates of Excellence in horticulture from the Garden Club of America. Virginia is also a community activist who has served as Chairman of the Board at the Atlanta Speech School and volunteered her time with the Trust for Public Land.

All of us at thank Virginia for continuing to help and nuture the growth of this organization with the same attention and effort she tends to Stachyurus praecox and other favorite plants. She is a true preservationist, and we are grateful for her attention and aid.

If you are interested in volunteering at the Georgia Trust, please call 404-885-7805 or email

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Remembering The Georgia Theatre

When you think of Athens, Georgia, two things come to mind: one, of course, being the University of Georgia, and the other the diverse and vibrant music scene the city has to offer with famous venues that have housed acts like REM, Widespread Panic, John Mayer, B-52s, The Zac Brown Band, Kenny Chesney, etc. This list of bands of all sizes from all genres that have graced the stages at venues like the 40-Watt and Georgia Theatre could go on and on, but there is not enough room on this blog to name them all. Needless to say, if you live in Athens, a good show is always easy to find. The Georgia Theatre was always a great place to go see a concert when I was in school at UGA, and my friends and I went often. I was heartbroken when I heard about the fire at The Georgia Theatre in June. All of the memories came back from all of the times I’d been there, and I thought how sad it was that new students and other newcomers would never be able to experience what I had. My brother and his friends jumped immediately into my head because they started UGA this August.

What made The Georgia Theatre so special was the ambiance. It was an intimate place to see a good band. Everything was open so no matter where you were, you could most likely see the band, and if nothing else hear it. Even when you were upstairs forever waiting in line for the bathroom, you could still hear the music. Every time I went to the theatre it was packed with people singing, dancing, and enjoying themselves. Did the Georgia Theatre have the nicest amenities? No, but that’s what made it The Georgia Theatre. It had the sense of an often used and loved place; not sterile in anyway whatsoever. It has been a part of the downtown streetscape of Athens for so long that the history was palpable when you walked in the doors, or saw the Art Deco marquee and ticket window as you walked down Lumpkin Street.

Because of this, I applaud Wilmot Greene’s plan for rebuilding The Georgia Theatre. Many of the historic elements will be retained, and the feel of the place won’t change. Bringing the theatre up to code will mean physical changes for sure, and it will be impossible to build it back to the exact way it was. But, that’s ok too because what can be saved is going to be saved or re-used in new way, like the pine beams that will be used as bar tops. The museum is also a great idea to give people a sense of what The Georgia Theatre was like before the fire. This theatre needs to be its own entity because it will never be exactly what the other was, but, at the same time, be a reminder of and incorporate the history of the place for future generations. That’s the plan, and I’m happy that this is how Mr. Greene will go forward.

There is a concert at the Fox in Atlanta Friday Oct. 30th to benefit The Georgia Theatre. The Zac Brown Band is headlining, and rumor has it other bands will be there as well. I have to work unfortunately or I’d be there. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about The Georgia Theatre, so everyone who can should come out to the show Friday night and support the cause.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Georgia Theatre Update from Relix Magazine

The Campaign to Rebuild the Georgia Theatre

On June 19, 2009, an early morning fire gutted Athens, GA’s historic Georgia Theatre. Now the theater’s owners have launched a campaign to rebuild and reopen the famed room by New Year’s Eve of 2011. Unfortunately, insurance on the building covered replacement costs — which would mean replacing the building to 1930s code. According to theater owner Wilmot Greene, “to rebuild to current building codes will cost much more — about $3 million total.” Greene recently partnered with The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, a not-for-profit whose mission is to restore buildings of historic and cultural importance. The Georgia Trust has established a fund to accept tax-deductible donations toward rebuilding the Georgia Theatre.

Clean up efforts are underway to remove the debris and steel support beams are now bracing the exterior walls. Restoration is about to begin. Please click here to donate.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Georgia Theatre Update

Plan for Rebuilt Theatre Ok'd

by Blake Aued - Athens Banner-Harold

The Georgia Theatre cleared its first hurdle to reopening Wednesday when an Athens-Clarke County board approved plans to rebuild the burned nightclub.

The county Historic Preservation Commission unanimously approved owner Wilmot Greene's proposal to rebuild the famed music venue.

"You said you wanted to make it a cornerstone of downtown," HPC member Jeff Weinberg told Greene. "I think this is going to do it. It's a nice design."

Any construction, demolition or renovations in an Athens historic district, including downtown, must go through the HPC. Its ruling on the Georgia Theatre is final.

With the exception of stained-glass windows and a new rooftop bar and restaurant, plans for the theater call for its exterior to be restored to almost exactly the way it was before a June fire gutted the venue.

"It's in my best interests to keep it beautiful and historic, so I wasn't worried about (getting approval)," Greene said.

Inside, Greene said he and his design team salvaged charred 250-year-old heart pine roof beams and will turn them into bar tops. The rebuilt club also will feature an art gallery and museum on its mezzanine level. The rooftop restaurant will serve barbecue at lunch and provide a refuge during concerts.

Next, Greene said he will apply to the county for permits to begin construction. Work is scheduled to start early next year, and he said he still hopes to reopen the theater by the end of 2010.

Greene still does not know how much rebuilding will cost. He has met with bankers who seem enthusiastic about the project, but he has not closed a deal on financing, he said.

"They liked the idea," he said. "They just need to see the numbers."

A fundraising campaign to help rebuild the club will kick off with a benefit concert Oct. 30 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Greene said. The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation - an Atlanta nonprofit that protects and restores historic buildings - is accepting contributions so Georgia Theatre fans can donate to the rebuilding effort tax-free. Such donations only can be spent on the exterior of the building.

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Thursday, October 22, 2009

Georgia Theatre Update

The Athens Historic Preservation Commission voted Wednesday to grant the owner of the Georgia Theatre permission to raise the landmark structure from the ashes of a fire that destroyed the building last June.

Once it is rebuilt, owner Wilmot Greene said, the Georgia Theatre will look as it did before the fire on June 19 but with some modifications. Stained glass windows will be on the front of the structure and there will be rooftop barbecue restaurant. Also, there will be a museum and an art gallery on the mezzanine level of the new building.

Greene said he will soon begin securing the required city permits to rebuild the inside of the theater and he hopes to reopen next year.

But Greene also needs to raise money for the repairs.

There is a solicitation for donations on the theater’s Web site. The Georgia Trust is taking donations for repairs to the outside of the building.

Greene has said he bought the theater five years ago for $1.5 million and had spent almost $750,000 on the 1930s-style art deco renovation when the landmark burned on June 19.

He told the Athens Banner-Herald it will cost much more than what he has put into the theater because now it must comply with 2009 building codes. Greene plans to make the inside look as it did before the fire.

“It’s in my best interest to keep it beautiful and historic,” Greene told the Athens newspaper.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Old World Santa at Rhodes Hall

Reservations open for Old World Santa at Rhodes Hall

If you missed snapping up a reservation for the Phipps Santa, you're not alone. But there’s another specialty Santa in Atlanta who still has reservations open between all the toy making and Google mapping of good and bad children.

It’s the Old World Santa, presented by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. He’ll be at Rhodes Hall from Dec. 1-13, closed on Saturdays because, “Santa needs his rest!”

There’s holiday entertainment, music, refreshments, activities and one-on-one time with Santa. The $35 family admission fee includes a 5×7 photo with the classically jolly man himself. Reservations are available by calling 404-885-7812.

Want to go? Old World Santa. 4-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-8 p.m. Friday and 2-4 p.m. Sundays Dec. 1-Dec. 13. $35 for family admission, reservations required. Rhodes Hall, 1516 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. 404-885-7812,

Monday, October 19, 2009

Georgia Theatre Update

Work at the Georgia Theatre in Athens continues. The theatre, which suffered significant fire damage this past June, is at the beginning of its long recovery process. One key step was the owner's selection of the architectural firm Davis Architects for the rehabilitation project. The architects have provided some early conceptual drawings and plans that so far have members of the historic preservation commission, a panel with the power to approve development in local historic districts, praising the proposed designs.

Though progress has begun, this rehabilitation project is not without challenges. One challenge is designing the interior of the gutted theatre to meet all modern codes while preserving the theatre’s historic exterior (Rehabilitating Interior Spaces). Another challenge lies in making these modern and necessary upgrades without compromising the sense of nostalgia held by many music lovers who attended shows at the theatre. It is obvious from comments made by the public (in response to newspaper stories and on blogs, Facebook and Twitter) that this theatre holds a special place in the hearts of many. Your contributions help ensure that the Georgia Theatre will once again be a place for making music and making memories.

After partnering with The Georgia Trust to establish the Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund, donations to the fund have been consistent. All donations to the fund are tax deductible and will be used to pay invoices for rehabilitation work submitted to The Georgia Trust. Donations can be made through our website.

You can also support the Georgia Theatre while enjoying a night of great music in Atlanta’s beautifully restored historic Fox Theatre. Tickets are now on sale for the Zac Brown Band concert at the Fox on Friday October 30th. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Old World Santa at Rhodes Hall - Dec. 1 - Dec. 13

Registration is now open for Old World Santa at Rhodes Hall

December 1 - 13th

Spaces fill up fast for this popular holiday event, so be sure to reserve your time slot now!

Although it might only be October, The Georgia Trust is making lists and checking them twice to make sure everything is ready when Old World Santa comes to town! This year our Victorian Santa will be visiting Rhodes Hall for 12 nights of holiday spirit, joy, and cookies too! We hope that you will join us for this festive holiday tradition!!

Reservations for Old World Santa are now OPEN! To reserve your spot call 404.885.7812!!!

While Santa has already planned to slide down our chimney, we still need help in making sure that this event is a magical holiday experience, and we're hoping that you might be willing and able to help! Please consider working a night or two. And we'd appreciate any leads you might have for other who might want to get involved.

During the event, you can choose from several volunteer positions.

Storytellers - Each night, a storyteller will entertain the children twice. You can tell your favorite tale, read from a favorite book, or we'll provide stories for you.

Piano Players - Rhodes Hall now has its own baby grand, thanks to a generous donor. We would love to have someone play their favorite carols during the event.

Registration - The registration desk is an exciting, busy place, as three volunteers will greet and direct the guests and notify them of their appointment.

Food and Beverage - A volunteer is needed to help setup the snack buffer and maintain the spread.

Arts and Crafts - Calling all creative types! We need someone to supervise the arts and crafts area each night.


Finally, if you're interested in helping with the preparations for the event (decorating, craft projects, etc) or if you have Christmas decorations that you would like to donate, please let us know. A volunteer meeting will be held Wednesday, October 28 at 6:00 PM at Rhodes Hall - 1516 Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

To register for Old World Santa, for more information, or to become a volunteer, please contact Mary Railey Binns at 404.885.7812 or

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Staff Spotlight

Ann and her daughter, Nora

Though the Trust typically spotlights members who have distinguished themselves through their service, this week we turn our attention to a staff member who has been a particular asset, Ann Dorsey.

Ann joined the Rhodes Hall Staff after working at Chateau Elan, and she quickly helped to streamline the rentals process. Ann's positive attitude, true dedication, and calm professionalism have been a gift to all of us at the Trust.

A busy mother of two, Ann is currently on leave, but she is missed at Rhodes Hall. We wish her a terrific break, and we look forward to her return.

If you are interested in renting Rhodes Hall for your event, please email Rebecca Hager or call 404-885-7800.

Where to Buy in Georgia

A key component of The Georgia Trust’s Endangered Properties Program is its Revolving Fund. Properties in this program are historic properties that face real threats and are usually in need of significant rehabilitation. The Georgia Trust markets these properties to preservation-minded individuals who are willing and able to purchase, rehabilitate, and preserve the property. Our efforts are aided by websites and publications that reach national audiences and cater to the preservation community. One such website,, is a great source for buyers and sellers of historic properties. is once again collaborating with This Old House to produce an annual list of “The Best Places to Buy an Old House”. In the past two years, Georgia has been represented on this list by Washington and Newnan. Many of our members who attended the 2008 Fall Ramble in Newnan and the 2009 Fall Ramble in Washington would agree that these are great towns for old houses.

Help recognize another great Georgia town! An upcoming issue and Web feature from This Old House will feature the 3rd annual "The Best Places to Buy an Old House" article, which strives to identify affordable—or just plain magnificent—homes in historic neighborhoods and districts across the United States.

In order to most effectively accomplish this search, This Old House and are seeking the help of dedicated preservationists, neighborhood boosters and heritage travelers! To nominate your historic district, town or city, please submit the following information:

· The name of the neighborhood, town or district you wish to nominate

· A brief history of the area

· A brief description of the types of houses available, including architectural styles, the period in which they were built; and the average price range.

· A short paragraph on why you think the area deserves to be included on our list.

· At least five high-res digital photographs (300 DPI, at about 8.5 by 6.5) of houses and/or streetscapes in the neighborhood.

This Old House and are especially interested in overlooked places known for affordable houses that are heavy on architectural details.

Nominations are due no later than November 16, 2009. Please send information outlined above to This Old House Associate Editor, Keith Pandolfi at

You can also view ads from The Rambler on our website to see additional historic properties for sale!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Opera at Rhodes Hall

Sunday, November 15, 2009 - 2:00 p.m.
Rhodes Hall - 1516 Peachtree Street NW - Atlanta, Georgia

Enjoy the sounds of American soprano and Georgia native Leah Partridge at a benefit performance in an intimate setting.

Ms. Partridge comes to Rhodes Hall courtesy of the cooperative efforts of the Atlanta Opera and the generosity of an anonymous underwriter. Spaces are very limited and reservations are required. A reception with the artist follows.

Tickets are $50 for members and $75 for non-members (includes membership to the Trust). Tickets are available online or by calling 404-885-7812.

About Leah Partridge
Leah Partridge is renowned for her virtuosic technique and dramatic insight and is considered a rising star in American opera. Ms. Partridge made her debut at the Atlanta Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia in the 2006-07 season. The following season, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Britten’s Peter Grimes. This October, she opens the Atlanta Opera’s 2009-2010 Season with a lead role in The Elixir of Love.

A native of Georgia, Ms. Partridge earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Mercer University and her Master of Music degree from Indiana University, where she received the prestigious Wilfred C. Bain opera fellowship. She won first place in the vocal competitions of Palm Beach Opera and Opera Birmingham.

Friday, October 9, 2009

2010 Places in Peril Announcement and Reception

Please join us as we recognize and honor

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s

2010 Places in Peril

Georgia’s ten most significant, endangered sites

Wednesday, November 4 - 5:30 – 8:00 pm

Rhodes Hall

1516 Peachtree Street, NW

Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Members: Entry is free, donations are suggested

Non-members: Entry is $25 and a one-year membership to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation

Refreshments will be served.

The Georgia Trust’s Places in Peril list identifies significant historic and archaeological properties which are threatened by demolition, deterioration, or insensitive development.

To lean more about the Places in Peril program, visit Places in Peril.

To RSVP, contact Mary Railey Binns at 404.885.7812 or

For Updates on the 2009 Places in Peril Click on the links below:

Battery Backus, Tybee Island

John Berrien House, Savannah

Bibb Mill, Columbus

Campbell Chapel AME Church, Americus

Crum and Forster Building, Atlanta

Fort Daniel, Buford

Mary Ray Memorial School, Newnan

Metcalf Township, Thomas County

Rock House, Thompson

Sallie Davis House, Milledgeville

2009 Places in Peril: Sallie Davis House, Milledgevile

The Story: The Sallie Davis House is the 1890 home of African American education pioneer Sallie Ellis Davis, who taught black children in Milledgeville. Sallie Ellis Davis was born in 1877 to an African American mother and Irish father. She attended schools in Baldwin County and Atlanta University. It was at the University that she developed a life-long friendship with W.E.B. DuBois. Sallie returned to Milledgeville and opened the home she bought in 1912 as a school to teach academics as well as life skills to African American children.

The Threat: Built in 1890, the house was owned by Sallie until her death in 1950. Sallie's will left the house to her cousins, who eventually sold the house in 1981. The house was continuously used as a residence until 1989, when the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia purchased it. The house is vacant and suffers from neglect, weathering, and vandalism.

The Solution: In 2003, a Certified Local Government grant was awarded to the City of Milledgeville for the Sallie Davis House, which funded an assessment and rehabilitation plan. Recently several involved groups, including UGA, have met to discuss the possible future uses of the Sallie Davis House.

Update: Georgia College and State University is prepared to complete the stabilization of the Sallie Davis House for an estimated cost of $25,000. A steering committee has been formed to lead this effort.

Places in Peril: Rock House,Thomson

The Story: This two-story 1780s house is constructed of twenty-four inch thick field stones and is recognized as the oldest surviving stone house in Georgia. The house was constructed by the Ansley family who received the land in 1783, fifteen years after the town of Wrightsborough was founded as the southernmost settlement of Quakers in America. The house remained privately owned until 1966, when the Wrightsborough Quaker Community Foundation purchased and restored the house with the intention of using it as a museum.

The Threat:
Now the house is closed, vacant, and unstaffed. Located in rural McDuffie County with no occupied houses near it, there is a minimal amount of security. Vandalism and a lack of maintenance funding have added to the overall threat to this historic structure.

The Solution: In December 2007, the Watson-Brown Junior Board issued an emergency grant for the repair of windows, historic sashes, and doors, but the house and its associated Ansley Cemetery are still in need of a solid overall preservation plan that would address issues of use, maintenance, and security.

The Trust is working with the Wrightsborough Foundation and the Thomson-McDuffie County Convention and Visitors Bureau to find funding. Securing this 18th century building is critical as vandals have gained access to the property.

2009 Places in Peril: Metcalf Township, Thomas County

The Story: The railroad played a major role in the establishment of Metcalf in south Georgia during the late nineteenth century. During its more productive years, Metcalf was a center for commerce and the trade of agricultural products. The township has many examples of late 19th century commercial and residential Victorian-era, Romanesque Revival Style, and vernacular architecture.

The Threat: Since the 1920s, Metcalf has endured being unincorporated, the loss of rail transportation, and the installation of a large lumber operation. Recently, Metcalf has caught the attention of developers due to its low cost of housing and land and proximity to Tallahassee. The possibility of new inappropriate development threatens a town already suffering from neglect, inappropriate infill, lack of building codes that addresses mobile homes, and no sewer system.

The Solution: Thomasville Landmarks has held community meetings to provide residents of Metcalf with information and gather support for a Places in Peril designation. Thomasville Landmarks and Thomas County Commission have agreed to support any preservation efforts and seek to protect the historic integrity of this small, rural south Georgia township.

Update: In December, the Trust and Thomasvile Landmarks co-sponsored a "Spotlight" event, where 75 members of the community came out to learn more about the rehabilitation initiative for the small township.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lead Paint

The potential of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to stimulate the field of historic preservation is found on many levels- from first time homebuyers contracting home improvements and renovations, to stimulus money provided for energy efficiency projects greening historic buildings, to road and bridge modernization projects generating additional surveys and studies to comply with Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act. Additionally, a recent article posted on reported that federal stimulus money has been made available to help prevent lead poisoning by encouraging lead abatement in homes. As well as creating safer living environments, this money is expected to create new jobs and, being that lead paint was commonly used until it was banned in 1978, could provide additional opportunities for historic preservationists.

While the hazards of lead paint should not be taken lightly, a trained preservationist can develop a custom plan to minimize the threat caused by lead paint and still preserve the historic integrity of the building. This involves assessing the painted surfaces in the least invasive way and finding the best and safest way to address issues with as little detriment to historic detail as possible.

Common issue:

One of the most important architectural elements of a building is its windows, yet dangerous dust can be created by the friction caused from opening and closing windows painted with lead paint. In this case, should historic windows be removed all together and newer, safer windows installed?

Where to find answers:

The National Park Service’s Preservation Brief #37 addresses lead paint hazards and historic buildings. Preservation Briefs are an excellent source for technical preservation information and can be found on the National Park Service website here: Preservation Briefs

Member Spotlight

Nancy Carter Bland, right, pictured with Kathryn Sellers.

The Trust is the beneficiary of the talents and attention of many passionate preservationists, and Nancy Carter Bland is foremost among them. Mrs. Bland and her husband, Dr. Bland, have been generous and loyal members of the Trust for more than a decade. The Trust is honored to recognize Mrs. Bland for her ongoing efforts to make preservation a priority in Georgia.

A native Atlantan and graduate of Northside High School as well as Emory University, Mrs. Bland is committed to maintaining the historic resources that make her hometown special. Mrs. Bland is also a patron of the arts, including the High Museum and the Atlanta Opera.

Mrs. Bland's passion for music and preservation will intertwine on November 18th, when she sponsors the Trust's Classics at the Castle concert featuring the incomparable soprano Leah Partridge. Rhodes Hall is a unique venue to showcase a tremendous voice. We hope you will join us for this afternoon concert, benefiting our organization and helping us to continue our efforts throughout the state.

All of us at the Trust thank Mrs. Bland for her efforts and her inspiration- she is a champion for preservation and the arts, and all Atlanta benefits from her dedication.

A Historic Stimulus: The Business of Preservation

Since its inception in 1976, the Federal Tax Incentives for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings program has generated over $50 billion in historic preservation activity. With over 35,600 projects, the program has produced thousands of jobs, enhanced property values, and attracted substantial investment to communities nationwide.

In Georgia, preservation continues to thrive despite an uncertain economy. In 2008, Georgia ranked 12th in the nation for final projects, with almost $30,000,000 in certified expenses for 18 projects. In addition, 43 projects were approved for tax incentives.

For over thirty years, federal and state tax incentives programs have helped propel historic preservation into a thriving business, and these figures only represent certified rehabilitation projects. In the United States, building renovation represents 35–45% of total construction spending. Best of all, studies show that for every dollar spent in rehabilitation expenses, five dollars is reinvested in the economy in the form of new housing units, local job creation, rejuvenated downtown centers, and protection of landfills from demolition materials.

Preservation facilitates not only economic development, but community development as well. The rehabilitation of older buildings preserves neighborhoods, giving communities a sense of place and history. Preservation also encourages sustainable growth by reusing existing resources and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.

The Atlanta Public School’s newly rehabilitated Springdale Park Elementary, which opened this fall, is a prime example of successful preservation. Located in the historic Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, the campus encompasses three buildings: two former residences built in the early 20th century and a modern building designed and built according to LEED standards. In the inaugural 2009-2010 school year, the school will host 340 students, kindergarten through fourth grade.

In communities throughout Georgia, many historic schools are being rehabilitated for modern use. In addition to the economic, environmental, and preservation incentives of rehabilitation,
older schools are valued by students, teachers, and community members for their historic importance, magnificent and inspiring architecture, and ideal location within neighborhoods.
Furthermore, historic schools provide an invaluable setting to educate the next generation of preservationists.

The Buildings’ History
The historic buildings on the property were originally built as residences in the early 20th century. The larger of the two buildings, the Rutland Building, was designed by Atlanta
architect Neel Reid in 1913. Built for Atlanta resident Ben Z. Phillips, the brick house is designed in the Italian Renaissance style. The Hirsch house, located on the corner of the lot was designed by Martin Nicholes and was built in the same time period.

In the late 1970s, the surrounding Druid Hills neighborhood became one of the first locally designated landmark districts in Atlanta and was placed on the National Register of Historic
In 1979, The Howard School, a private school for children with language learning disabilities and learning difficulties bought the property. In 2007, The Howard School sold the campus property to the Atlanta Public Schools, and administrators began to plan the site’s expansion into a new elementary school. Named Springdale Park Elementary in honor of the nearby parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the new facility is intended to relieve crowding at neighboring schools.

Community Support
Many parents are excited about the rehabilitation of Springdale Park Elementary. “It’s a green place to learn that is representative of the way the world is today. It’s efficient, it’s green, it’s historic. It’s a nice blend of the old and new. It’s very forward thinking,” said Jenn Ballentine, Springdale Park Elementary School PTO board member.

The Players
In 2008, Atlanta Public Schools and architectural firm Perkins+Will unveiled plans for the rehabilitation of the historic buildings and construction of a modern addition. Due to the site’s local landmark status, the plans had to be reviewed and approved by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission. The final plans called for the removal of the modern additions attached to the Rutland building and the rehabilitation of the existing buildings according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The contractor of the project is Barton Malow Company. In addition to the rehabilitation, the property is to be landscaped exclusively with plants listed on Frederick Law Olmsted’s original plant list for the

The Finished Product
In the end, the plans produced an exciting mix of old and new. The historic Rutland Building is the home to the principal’s office, art classrooms, and media center. The first floor of the building was rehabilitated to reflect the historic character of the building. The original hardwood floors and woodwork were refinished and the staircase was stabilized and rehabilitated.

The Hirsch house is receiving minor updates. The newly built Olmsted Building is separated from the Rutland Building by a courtyard and is the first Atlanta public school designed based on LEED standards. As a result, the school boasts a rooftop garden, a grid of 50 wells 400 feet below the earth to provide energy efficient heating and cooling for the building, and highly efficient water fixtures to reduce water use by 20 percent. In addition, 75 percent or more of all construction waste was diverted from landfills by separating and recycling waste materials.

For students, teachers, and community members, the new Springdale Park Elementary School
is extraordinarily valuable. The project emphasizes preservation and environmental sustainability and presents an engaging lesson for the next generation. “The school provides us with great opportunities to talk to our kids, not just about the importance of being green, but about the history of where they sit,” says Springdale principal Yolanda C. Brown. “Here the kids are part of history.”

- The Rambler, 2009 Summer Edition

To receive a copy of The Rambler, become a member of the Georgia Trust by logging onto our website or calling Lindsay Cronk at 404.885.7805.