Georgia Trust Announces 2019 List Of State’s 10 ‘Places In Peril’

Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Huston House, Butler Plantation, Darien, Ga.
Huston House, Butler Plantation, Darien, Ga.
- photo by Halston Pitman | Nick Woolever | MotorSportMedia

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation released its 2019 list of 10 Places in Peril in the state on Wednesday.

Sites on the list include: Colquitt County Arts Center  in Moultrie (Colquitt County); Glennwanis Hotel in Glennville (Tattnall County); Huston House at Butler Plantation in Darien (McIntosh County); Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace Garden in Savannah (Chatham County); Madison Theatre in Atlanta (DeKalb County); Needwood Baptist Church and School in Brunswick (Glynn County); Rhodes Center South in Atlanta (Fulton County); Springfield Log Cabin School in Union Point (Taliaferro County); Stark Mill Community Building in Hogansville (Troup County); and The Cedars in Washington (Wilkes County).

“This is the Trust’s fourteenth annual Places in Peril list,” said Mark C.

McDonald, president and CEO of the Trust. “We hope the list will continue to bring preservation solutions to Georgia’s imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites.”

Places in Peril is designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.

Through Places in Peril, the Trust will encourage owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ proven preservation tools, financial resources and partnerships in order to reuse, reinvest and revitalize historic properties that are in peril.

Sites on previous years’ lists include: Madison’s Foster-Thomason-Miller House, an outstanding example of the Aesthetic Movement in Georgia, was purchased through the Madison-Morgan Conservancy’s Revolving Fund; Lyon Farmhouse, one of the oldest houses in DeKalb County, has received funding from the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners to stabilize the historic house; the Harrington School on St Simons Island, which served as the main educational structure for African Americans on the island, recently completed a seven-year restoration; Augusta’s Trinity C.M.E. Church, considered the “Mother” church of the C.M.E. denomination, and which previously sat on contaminated soil, was moved to a new location across the street; the Lee Street Bridge in Americus will be replaced at its current elevation, so as not to adversely affect the neighboring historic Calvary Episcopal Church that was designed by renowned architect Ralph Adams Cram; and unfortunately, the Kolb Street House in Madison, a c.1850 house used as a prison camp for Union soldiers and later as a Confederate hospital, was lost to fire in 2017.

Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation works for the preservation and revitalization of Georgia's diverse historic resources and advocates their appreciation, protection and use. As one of the country's leading statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations, the Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund and raises awareness of other endangered historic resources through an annual listing of Georgia's "Places in Peril." The Trust offers a variety of educational programs for adults and children, provides technical assistance to property owners and historic communities, advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts, and manages two house museums in Atlanta (Rhodes Hall) and Macon (Hay House). 

Summary Information on each Places in Peril Site

Colquitt County Arts Center (Moultrie, Colquitt County)
Designed in 1928 by Atlanta architect William J.J. Chase, the Colquitt County Arts Center originally served as the old Moultrie High School. After being vacated by the Colquitt County Board of Education in the 1970s, the building was rehabilitated into an arts center, which has become the hub for cultural opportunities in the county. The Arts Center is threatened by its current state of disrepair and ongoing maintenance needs. While many campaigns have been orchestrated to raise funding, there is still a significant need to prevent further damages and deterioration.

Glennwanis Hotel (Glennville, Tattnall County)
Dating to 1920, the Glennwanis Hotel in Glennville was once one of the grandest hotels in rural Southeast Georgia. Notable for the time, each guest room had electric lights, steam heat and running hot and cold water. Established to cater to out-of-town guests, the hotel eventually became Glennville's premier social venue and hub for community life. The greatest threat to the Glennwanis Hotel is severe deterioration after the previous private owner converted large parts of the building into efficiency apartments while failing to properly maintain the structure. At this point, the hotel's future remains uncertain.

Huston House at Butler Plantation (Darien, McIntosh County)
The Huston House, located on Butler Island, was constructed in 1927 by Colonel T.L. Huston, a former co-owner of the New York Yankees. Butler Island, originally a rice plantation dating to the 1790s, was converted to a dairy and lettuce farm by Huston in the 20th century. After Huston’s death in 1938, the property was purchased by tobacco heir R.J. Reynolds, Jr. Today the property is owned by the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division. The Huston House is currently vacant with no long-term plan for use or maintenance. Changing climate and the severity of recent hurricanes have exposed the house to the elements. Without a plan in place, these threats will lead to continued deterioration of the building.

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace Garden (Savannah, Chatham County)
In the mid-1950s, Clermont Lee, Georgia’s first registered female landscape architect, was commissioned to design a garden for the birthplace and girlhood home of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. Renowned for consulting on historic landscapes throughout the state, Lee designed a historically appropriate garden that included plantings that were popular during Low’s childhood. Today the garden and Lee’s design are under threat of being significantly altered or potentially demolished. Recently the Birthplace unveiled a new site plan that includes changes to the garden, but the garden’s fate remains unclear.

Madison Theatre (Atlanta, DeKalb County)
Opened in 1927, the Madison Theatre in East Atlanta was designed by local architects Daniell and Beutell in the popular Moorish Revival style. With over 600 seats, lavish furnishings and air conditioning, the theater ranked as one of the finest and most expensive neighborhood theaters in the South at the time. As with many neighborhood theaters, the Madison helped bridge the gap between the silent and “talkie” movie eras, serving as a community cultural resource and operating as a theater until the 1960s before later being used as a church. Since the 1980s, only smaller portions of the building have been used for commercial purposes while the larger theater space has been used for storage. There is significant potential for rehabilitation, but there are no plans to bring the theater back to its original glory.

Needwood Baptist Church and School (Brunswick, Glynn County)
Founded in 1866 by freed people raised in the Gullah Geechee tradition, Needwood Baptist Church is one of the oldest African-American churches in the state. The church building dates to the 1870s and likely sits on land that was once part of Needwood Plantation. The adjacent school, built in 1907, remained in use for the children of the congregation until the 1950s, when Georgia created Equalization Schools. The Needwood Baptist Church and School are threatened by their current state of disrepair, including failing roofs and increased water damage after recent storms, despite many families, descendants and church members working to save them.

Rhodes Center South (Atlanta, Fulton County)
Designed in 1937 by noted Georgia architects Ivey and Crook, Rhodes Center was Atlanta’s first strip shopping center and one of the largest real estate developments in Atlanta during the Great Depression. Rhodes Center was originally made up of three one-story buildings that ran along the north, south, and west sides of Rhodes Hall and were faced with white Georgia marble. Only the South building, which was home to the Rhodes Theatre, remains. The building is threatened by its current state of disrepair after sitting vacant and suffering neglect for many years. Despite a thriving market for commercial real estate in Midtown Atlanta, there are no plans for its rehabilitation.

Springfield Log Cabin School (Union Point, Taliaferro County)
The Springfield Log Cabin School was built in 1935 for the African American students in the community. African American property owners cut logs from their properties to build the school, and the finished product resembles the plan of some Rosenwald Schools. In 1965, the Springfield Log Cabin School became the only known Freedom School in Georgia. Today the Springfield School is in immediate danger of collapse due to water flow beneath the building. The resulting erosion has contributed to a damaged and destabilized foundation, causing significant sagging.

Stark Mill Community Building (Hogansville, Troup County)
Constructed in 1917 to serve as a hub for the residents of the Stark Textile Mill community, the Stark Mill Community Building provided a variety of social and recreational outlets popular at the time. The building was designed by noted textile mill architectural firm Lockwood Greene and is a unique example of the Tudor Revival style used in a textile community building. The building has been abandoned for many years and has been threatened with demolition due to its neglect.

The Cedars (Washington, Wilkes County)
This rambling 18-room house is an excellent example of Victorian architecture although portions of the house date to earlier periods of construction. The land on which the house sits was first owned by George Walton, a Georgia Signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house became known as “The Cedars” during the Victorian era, when many significant additions and alterations took place and has been home to several notable Washingtonians throughout its history. The building has fallen into disrepair, with no discernible improvements made since the early 2000s, and is in significant danger of demolition by neglect.

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