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Augusta's Goodale House heads to court

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The fate of Augusta’s historic Goodale House, one of Georgia’s oldest surviving homes, could now rest in the hands of a Richmond County judge.

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The owner of the historic Goodale Inn on Sand Bar Ferry Road was ordered to either repair or demolish the structure which was built in 1799. It has remained unrepaired for three years and its fate now rests in the hands of a Richmond County Judge set to hear the case July 22.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
The owner of the historic Goodale Inn on Sand Bar Ferry Road was ordered to either repair or demolish the structure which was built in 1799. It has remained unrepaired for three years and its fate now rests in the hands of a Richmond County Judge set to hear the case July 22.

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Built in 1799 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, the Federal-style building was deemed a “nuisance property” in Richmond County Magistrate Court in late October and its owner, Wes Sims, was ordered to repair or demolish the structure.

Sims is scheduled to return to court July 22 to fight for the three-story house on Sand Bar Ferry Road whose west-facing chimney and adjoining wall collapsed in August 2011.

Both have remained unrepaired for nearly three years.

“It’s going to be up to the judge,” Rob Sherman, deputy director of Augusta’s Planning and Development Department, said of the house’s future. “At this point, (Sims), nor a contractor, has taken out a permit to repair or demolish the structure. He has not done anything and if he hasn’t by the court date, he’ll have to explain why.”

Sims’ has said since he purchased the family home of former South Carolina governor and Confederate general Wade Hampton III in 2009 for less than $20,000 that he intends to restore it, possibly transforming it into a bed-and-breakfast with some type of historical display inside.

Sims did not return phone messages seeking comment, but Richmond County tax records show the Alabama investor paid $507 of the $1,677 in taxes owed on the property in 2013 to prevent it from being auctioned on the courthouse steps. The property balance has since accrued $11.55 in penalty interest.

Historic Augusta, which has been identified by the city as a more appropriate suitor for the building’s restoration, has been trying to acquire the house to ensure it’s preserved, but has not been successful, said Erick Montgomery, the nonprofit’s executive director.

Sherman said members of the Augusta Historic Preservation Commission prefer the house be restored, but added that such a project would involve new architectural plans and a structural engineer to declare the building safe.

“It is going to take a lot of funds to save this structure and I don’t know if the present owner is going to do that,” Sherman said.

Sherman said city inspectors take cases involving mandated repairs to magistrate court monthly and in roughly 800 of them in the past 15 years, a demolition order has been granted.

This situation, however, is unique since the Goodale House is a historic structure.

A more likely outcome, Sherman said, is for a judge to seek a resolution where a private organization, such as Historic Augusta, which deemed the property endangered in 2012, spends its money to restore the house.

Montgomery said acquiring property through the courts would be “new ground” for Historic Augusta and that the organization would need to know the details before agreeing.

“Nobody’s talked to me about that particular scenario, but we would be interested in having possession to try to save it,” Montgomery said. “The house has a lot of historical associations and represents an important aspect of Augusta’s history.”

Sims could still make a strong case to keep the house, but Sherman said that “on a gut feeling, it’s unlikely.”

Comments (15) Add comment
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AFjoe
3784
Points
AFjoe 07/01/14 - 01:55 pm
4
2
West facing chimney

Is there something unusual about a chimney facing west? It is mentioned in the story. Looks like it is one for the wrecking ball or maybe a house the fire department could use for training, once.

jimmymac
42941
Points
jimmymac 07/01/14 - 02:50 pm
1
0
HOUSE
Unpublished

Every time I drive down Sand Bar Ferry Rd. I look at that dilapidated house and wonder when/if someone is going to either repair or tear down that mess. In it's current condition it's a safety hazard at worst and an eye sore at best. Something needs to be done now and it's obvious that the current owner doesn't have the funds to do either. Give it to the historical society for what you've got in it and move on.

Riverman1
86989
Points
Riverman1 07/01/14 - 02:59 pm
9
0
Save Historic Augusta

If at all possible, this historic house should be preserved as all historic structures should be. Keep the colonial theme in Augusta.

As someone who grew up in Charleston and saw battles to save historic houses often, believe me you won't go wrong by keeping all you can. Look at the tourists who visit Charleston for the history.

In Augusta, we have a gold mine of historic buildings and potential scenes of Ole Augusta river commerce and life.

historylover
11255
Points
historylover 07/01/14 - 05:12 pm
6
0
Riverman

We should write down the date, because I agree 100% with your comment. I hate for Augusta to continue becoming the city of "On This Spot Once Stood..."

amarie525
3547
Points
amarie525 07/01/14 - 11:41 pm
2
0
Hopeful

I've been driving by this home for years. Always hoped someone would restore it and use it for something. I really hope it can be saved. I wanted to turn it into a bed and breakfast!

JRC2024
9309
Points
JRC2024 07/01/14 - 11:45 pm
2
0
I had some good steaks in the

I had some good steaks in the basement when the restaurant was there.

corgimom
34164
Points
corgimom 07/02/14 - 06:13 am
1
4
It's at the point of no

It's at the point of no return, it's now just a dangerous old building. What a shame, that the owner never repaired it.

Bizkit
33022
Points
Bizkit 07/02/14 - 07:47 am
4
0
I agree Riverman, Augusta has

I agree Riverman, Augusta has let too much history be destroyed as it is. One of the areas greatest tourist assets, yet too few appreciate that fact.

Little Lamb
46976
Points
Little Lamb 07/02/14 - 07:52 am
1
3
Historic Augusta

Historic Augusta, Inc., is a private, non-profit organization that gets its budget from membership dues and an annual wine tasting party. It is not financially capable of restoring and maintaining this Goodale House.

jgfickling
4
Points
jgfickling 07/02/14 - 10:27 am
0
0
Goodale

We pass it daily, its an eyesore but so are a lot of properties on Sandbar Ferry road. For prides sake Augusta clean it all up. Restore the house or tear it down.

lieutenantkitten
14
Points
lieutenantkitten 07/02/14 - 11:48 am
2
0
Lessons in History

1 - This house can be saved by Historic Augusta. In fact their revolving fund is utilized for that very reason. Little Lamb perhaps you should learn more about the organization first before you speculate about their capabilities.
2 - Tearing it down doesn't stop the eyesore of a vacant lot over grown with weeds.
3 - West facing chimneys are odd considering the layout of the house. Federal period houses generally have the chimneys on the inside but not direct middle. Historically in the southern colonies the chimneys were place on the outer sides of the houses, as opposed to the inside or middle like during the Federal Period. It just explains the type of plan.

historylover
11255
Points
historylover 07/02/14 - 11:49 am
0
0
Little Lamb

You are right that Historic Augusta probably doesn't have the funds to restore the home completely, but look what other cities have done with similar properties. I truly think that if given the opportunity Augustans would happily donate the needed money. We just need someone who cares to take over the property and move forward before it's too late.

Little Lamb
46976
Points
Little Lamb 07/02/14 - 12:44 pm
1
1
Forum

Welcome to the forum, JGFickling.

The owner obviously cannot afford to fix up the house. Because it is "historic," he will have to do more than he would if it was a common residence.

The court case should put some teeth into the matter. He was ordered to fix or demolish. He did neither. He should be found in contempt of court and jailed until he fixes or demolishes.

I vote for demolition.

corgimom
34164
Points
corgimom 07/02/14 - 01:18 pm
1
1
That building is to the point

That building is to the point where there's nothing left to hold it up but the termites, spiders, rats, and other bugs.

Once a wall collapses, and the interior is exposed to weather, just tear it down.

If Historic Augusta had the funds, they would've fixed it by now. They don't.

What Little Lamb says is correct.

wessims
93
Points
wessims 07/02/14 - 08:00 pm
1
1
Save The Goodale

The house is solid despite its open wall. Plans are being drawn up for the repairs and as soon as completed we will apply for a building permit. Soon Augusta will see Georgia's oldest brick home put back together again. If a wall fell down in your house and you did not have the money to fix it right away what would you do? I have done my best with my resources over the last two years. It has taken longer than everyone would like but nobody is having to pay for it but me.....Nobody deserves to go to jail or be fined for having financial setbacks. The Goodale will continue to stand the test of time and with a little more patience Richmond County will see that I am committed to stand with it.

corgimom
34164
Points
corgimom 07/03/14 - 07:02 pm
0
0
Nobody gets to defy court

Nobody gets to defy court orders, either, and if you do, you are either fined or jailed. Just like everybody else. Nobody told you to buy that property, Mr. Sims, that was your choice.

If you can't come up with the money in 3 years, why would you be able to do it now, Mr. Sims? What has changed?

"My house is in good shape, if you don't count the fact that only 3 walls are standing intact."

Sure.

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