Historic group signs off on city IT plans, saving 19th-century court building

Augusta's Historic Preservation Commission approved these revised elevations of a new city IT building more in keeping with preservation guidelines.

Augusta’s Historic Preservation Commission has approved modified plans for a new, 20,000-square-foot Information Technology building after the city’s previous proposal failed to meet preservation guidelines for the downtown historic district.

The modification also spares a 19th Century court building, the last of its kind on the downtown government campus in the 500 block between Greene and Telfair streets, that was previously slated for demolition to create more parking.

Erick Montgomery, the director of Historic Augusta, said he was pleased with the final design and plans negotiated over the last two months between city officials, the preservation commission and architect Virgo Gambill. He said he looked forward to seeing “incongruous additions” removed from the court building that will reveal its “Greek Revival simplicity.”

Montgomery also noted that an adjacent 1869 Greek Revival Temple – believed the oldest existing Georgia structure built as a synagogue – was never slated for demolition and will have a future use, to be determined later.

City officials initially believed the court building was an annex to the temple, but Montgomery determined it was built in the mid-19th century to house local court functions. Both the city-owned temple and court building currently house city offices.

Approved Thursday, the revised elevations of the two-story, $7 million IT building show gray-toned brick and metal exterior, with rows of windows and a cornice effect around the top. A garage door, used for IT to service city vehicles, was relocated from Greene Street to Fifth Street.

Preservation Commission members compared the city’s earlier plan, a nearly windowless, modern structure to a big-box store, and questioned why the entire municipal campus renovations were designed with no regard for preservation guidelines.

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