Living history

One of Augusta's oldest surviving houses celebrated a triumphant transition Tuesday.


"When you preserve old buildings, you preserve their stories," said Tom Robertson, one of three investors who bought and renovated the dilapidated Stovall-Barnes House on Greene Street.

Built in 1860, the multistory home had fallen into disrepair from decades as a tenant house, and in 2007 was listed by Historic Augusta Inc. among the city's most endangered historic properties.

The original owner was Bolling A. Stovall, a prominent cotton broker. The house was also the boyhood home of Pleasant A. Stovall, who played baseball as a child with Woodrow Wilson and later became a newspaper publisher and ambassador to Switzerland during World War I.

The Stovall family sold the house in 1873 to George Thomas Barnes, who became a U.S. congressman.

Mr. Barnes was also Mr. Robertson's great-great grandfather. That connection provided part of the initiative that led Mr. Robertson and partners Tennent Houston and Paul King to buy and restore the building, which was unveiled as an apartment building.

"It cost a little more than we anticipated but that's not unusual in any remodeling," Mr. Robertson said.

Using a photograph of the home taken about 1900, workers replaced a missing chimney, shored up a porch that no longer had a foundation and even renovated the detached kitchen and servants' quarters building behind the main house.

Erick Montgomery, the executive director of Historic Augusta, said most of the apartments already have been rented.

The building's new appearance is particularly important, he said, because of its location in the 1200 block of Greene Street -- a major gateway to downtown.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119 or rob.pavey@augustachronicle