Historic Augusta announces 2014 Endangered Properties List

The former J.C. Penney building on Broad Street

NOTE: A graphic of Historic Augusta’s annual Endangered Properties list Friday in The Augusta Chronicle had the wrong address for the Old First Baptist Church at 802 Greene St.

The Chronicle regrets the error.

 

The days might be numbered for some of the oldest properties in downtown Augusta if appropriate action isn’t taken soon.

On Thursday, a historic church, a synagogue, a former department store and two freestanding buildings were added to Historic Augusta’s 2014 Endangered Properties List.

Historic Augusta compiles the list to draw attention to buildings of historic significance that are in danger of being lost because of neglect, nearby development, vacancy or changes to the building inconsistent with historic design. This year’s list targeted properties in areas where other preservation or redevelopment projects are underway or completed.

“The goal is we will continue to work with the folks that own the properties to try to accomplish their preservation,” said Historic Augusta Executive Director Erick Montgomery. Historic Augusta held a press conference at the Jacob Phinizy House, 529 Greene St., a building that was on the 2010 list before renovated for the offices of 2KM Architects.

The old First Baptist Church, 802 Greene St., was added to the list because it has been underutilized and poorly maintained in recent years, Montgomery said. It is on the same block as the Augusta Public Library that opened in 2010 and a row of historic houses undergoing rehabilitation.

“A number of groups have used it — small churches and educational institutions. None of them have had the resources to restore it and maintain it as it should be,” Montgomery said of the church.

The other religious structure on the list is the Congregation Children of Israel Synagogue, 525 Telfair St. The building has been used as city and county offices since the mid-20th century and currently houses the Augusta Planning and Development offices.

The offices are slated to move to the Municipal Building that is undergoing renovation, leaving the synagogue available for a new use. The synagogue’s annex building, which was to be demolished before the city’s Historic Preservation Committee vetoed it two weeks ago, was not included in the listing.

“Had the county not picked it up and since been used by the city, we probably would have lost this building a long time ago,” Montgomery said.

The former J.C. Penney’s department store on the 700 block of Broad Street was also added to the list. The building is owned by Bonnie Ruben, who also owns the Ramada Hotel and several other vacant, downtown properties.

The old department store is located on the same block as the Miller Theater which is being refurbished by Symphony Orchestra Augusta. The store could be used as apartments, commercial office space or a community center, Historic Augusta said.

The other two listings were the former Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Exchange Building, near the renovated J.B. White’s Building, and a 19th century commercial building that was originally a grocery store at 472 Broad St. The 19th century building is on the same block as the Holiday Inn Express set to open next spring.

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THE LIST

Old First Baptist Church, 802 Greene St.

Built: 1902 by William F. Denny

Style: Beaux-Arts

Features: copper dome, Corinthian columns and arched windows

History: The old church is on the same site where the Southern Baptist Convention had its first meeting in 1845. The church congregation moved to Walton Way Extension in 1975.

 

Congregation Children of Israel Synagogue, 525 Telfair St.

Built: 1869

Style: Greek Revival temple

History: It is the oldest building constructed in the state of Georgia as a synagogue. The congregation moved to Walton Way in the late 1940s. The main worship space has been divided into two floors creating numerous offices.

 

Former J.C. Penney’s department store, 732-738 Broad St.

Built: 1900 by William F. Denny

Features: 83,000-square feet, 230 feet of window displays and an Art Deco facade added in 1922

History: Built as part of the Albion Hotel, the store first housed the J.B. White Company. A 1921 fire destroyed parts of the hotel but it reopened the following year. J.C. Penney opened in 1959 before leaving for the Augusta Mall in 1987. It also housed a Sears Roebuck and Co. store.

 

Former Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Exchange Building, 937 Ellis St.

Built: 1902

History: The Southen Bell Telephone and Telegraph company occupied the building until 1940. It was then listed as the Carpenter’s Building in 1945 and housed a variety of tenants including unions, alliances and professional fraternities. The Augusta Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons last occupied it in the 1980s.

 

19th-Century commercial building, 472 Broad St.

Built: soon after the 1878 tornado

Style: two-story masonry commercial building with residential space above

History: The building sits near the Haunted Pillar that remained standing at the city’s public market after a tornado destroyed much of the surrounding blocks. It once housed a grocery store.

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