Historic North Augusta looked back at a successful first year and ahead to an ambitious second one at its annual meeting Thursday night.
Plans include saving the Society House from the weather, some archeological digging at the Charles Hammond House, and applying for grants to do more projects.
There are 220 buildings in North Augusta that have been identified as historic, some in pretty bad shape, said Mark Newell, the organization’s secretary. Time is of the essence to save the most needy of the city’s historic structures before they’re gone forever.
Andy Barnes, Historic North Augusta’s president, noted that the Society House was just a few years away from being beyond salvage, but now will be preserved because of the organization’s help and donations from the business community. There’s enough money to put on a new roof and siding, and repair its windows this year.
Once it’s painted, it could stand another 100 years, Newell said.
“If someone hadn’t purchased the Charles Hammond House, it was going to go by the wayside too,” Barnes said.
James O’Neal, the Hammond House’s new owner, recently received some interior construction materials — casings and balusters that date to the 1800s — from Newell. O’Neal plans to turn the pre-Revolutionary War house into a bed-and-breakfast with meeting spaces.
Newell hopes the old detached kitchen can be located, and that an archaeological dig through its garbage pile could shed light on the “life-ways” of the people who lived in that time. Ideally, the dig could involve students from local or state colleges in South Carolina and Georgia.
Historic North Augusta also was able to help with a kitchen floor replacement in Rosemary Hall, providing labor for the effort, which took material from the attic to keep it true to period.
The Hammond House also could benefit from Historic North Augusta’s second-year plans to work with the city on becoming a certified local government through a National Park Service program. The program identifies grants that let “local, state, and federal governments work together … to help communities save the irreplaceable historic character of places,” according to its website.
Mayor Bob Pettit supports the idea and has asked the organization to work closely with the city to help it get qualified, Newell said.
Once that’s accomplished, Historic North Augusta would lend its expertise to owners who want to preserve their properties – like O’Neal – and help them find funding sources.
It also is working to meet a Feb. 12 deadline to seek funding from the Watson-Brown Foundation in Thomson, Ga., which “awards grants to qualifying organizations that have an abiding interest in the history and culture of the South.”
During its first year, Historic North Augusta obtained 501 (c)(3) status, which means donations and membership fees are tax-deductible.
During the meeting, Newell outlined the various memberships available – from founding member ($100) to annual ($25) to student ($10) and said “if we need to invent another category to get more money, we’ll do that.”
It will go where it counts – into projects, Newell said. They won’t spend it on an office, or even a website. Their Facebook page is free, he explained.