Goodale House owner gets 60-day extension before trial

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The clock is ticking on Augusta’s historic Goodale House, one of Georgia’s oldest surviving homes.

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Richmond County Magistrate Judge H. Scott Allen gave the owner, Wes Sims, 60 days to begin restorations on the 215-year-old Federal-style building Tuesday, nine months after the court declared the property a nuisance.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Richmond County Magistrate Judge H. Scott Allen gave the owner, Wes Sims, 60 days to begin restorations on the 215-year-old Federal-style building Tuesday, nine months after the court declared the property a nuisance.

Wesley Brown
Reporter
E-mail | 706-823-3221

Richmond County Magistrate Judge H. Scott Allen gave the owner, Wes Sims, 60 days to begin restorations on the 215-year-old Federal-style building Tuesday, nine months after the court declared the property a nuisance.

Sims could have faced a maximum of 60 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, possible demolition of the house and loss of ownership to a private organization, such as Historic Augusta, which deemed the property endangered in 2012 for it to restore the home.

Allen said, however, that Sims and the county “will work a little longer” on the project before a jury trial could be held to decide the fate of the Sand Bar Ferry Road house, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

“I would prefer not to (order demolition),” Allen said. “I would not be well-received in the community.”

Augusta-Richmond County planners said they “would like to hope” that Sims, who was present during Tuesday’s hearing, has a genuine interest in restoring the structure, but they did not express much confidence in the Birmingham, Ala., investor.

Both the three-story house’s chimney and the adjoining wall have remained unrepaired since collapsing in August 2011.

Sims said the birth of his child two weeks ago and the city’s request that an independent contractor be hired to restore the house has delayed construction.

“We have done everything we can without permits,” Sims, who originally planned to fix the Goodale House himself, told Allen.

After the hearing, Sims said he has hired a new structural engineer to create stamped drawings and pull permits to start construction. He added that he has spent the past week removing finishes, exposing brickwork and securing the premises for the engineer to conduct a “beam-to-beam analysis” on the home.

“I’m definitely pleased with the outcome,” Sims said of the hearing. “It’s a big project, and I need more time. I’ve got a contractor on board that I trust. We’ll see how it goes.”

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

“I’m in love with the house. It’s one of a kind,” he said.

After the hearing, Erick Montgomery, the executive director of Historic Augusta, offered the nonprofit’s help to restore the building. The organization has been trying to acquire the house to ensure it’s preserved, but Sims said its offers have been too low.

Allen said that either way, the building’s problems must be addressed.

“I will never fathom what possessed you to buy the property,” the judge said. “But as long as you own it, you will do what the law says.”

Comments (7) Add comment
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corgimom
46658
Points
corgimom 07/22/14 - 03:09 pm
1
1
Bravo to the judge! Nobody

Bravo to the judge! Nobody told Sims to buy it, but now that he has, he needs to fix it, or get rid of it to somebody that will.

Riverman1
110739
Points
Riverman1 07/22/14 - 03:18 pm
3
1
I admire Sims for taking on

I admire Sims for taking on the project. Let's hope it all pans out.

Pops
20767
Points
Pops 07/22/14 - 04:07 pm
1
2
“I’m in love with the house. It’s one of a kind,” he said.

No it's not......there are some other ones in Augusta just like it......got people in them, too......

Bodhisattva
9799
Points
Bodhisattva 07/23/14 - 05:51 am
0
1
Sounds like Historic Augusta

Sounds like Historic Augusta wants a freebie.

David Parker
7924
Points
David Parker 07/23/14 - 07:41 am
0
1
I can point out half a dozen

I can point out half a dozen structures languishing in the epicenter of downtown for years. Those owners aren't brought to court. I personally saw Mr. Sims hustling and getting his hands dirty trying to accomplish something with the rehab. So why such haste to pressure this owner with his property out by the Sand Bar? That's the pertinent question. The answer just may be in the previous comment.

soitgoes
900
Points
soitgoes 07/23/14 - 08:23 am
1
0
Private Property?

Sure, it's an eyesore, but it is PRIVATE property. A court cannot simply take it away from someone and give it to someone else. That is unconstitutional. A court can compel the owner to fix it up, which should be the only option. Of course, if Historic Augusta wants to pony up real $ to purchase the building...

wessims
115
Points
wessims 07/23/14 - 11:52 am
0
1
It is one of a kind and it

It is one of a kind and it will be restored. When your spouse has hard times do you just "get rid of it"? I am fully committed to the preservation of this house. I love this house and my efforts to save it are not for personal gain. It's no more an eyesore than the thick clouds of pollutants I watch from my porch across the street at the nitrogen factory. I'd be more concerned with the safety of everyone from breathing in the air than the safety of a trespasser on private property. I will fix it and maybe not as fast as EVERYONE would like but as fast as I can. I will be subject to the laws and am doing what is required. Some people spend too much time reading about what is going on in the world and commenting their opinions and judgments....like they are the authority of right and wrong. I am a person who gets off his rear and makes things happen. This house has not sat idle for three years as some would be led to believe. If I wanted to shoot myself in the foot I would speak my mind and tell you all what I believe is really going on.....

David Parker
7924
Points
David Parker 07/25/14 - 12:57 am
0
0
We know all too well how they

We know all too well how they run things in this town Wes. You have supporters and that is an imperative when dealing with vampires.

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