Bon Air, 4 other structures added to Historic Augusta's Endangered Properties list

Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 1:10 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 12:22 AM
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The original Bon Air Hotel, once known for its grandeur and beauty, needs a revival.

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Cauley-Wheeler Building, 1339 Laney-Walker Blvd.: Built in 1924, it is the last remaining building of the original Haines Normal and Industrial Institute. The building is named for philanthropist Alice Wheeler of New York and her nurse, Mary Cauley. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Haines Alumni Association owns the structure, and the Richmond County Board of Education holds a long-term lease.  SPECIAL
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Cauley-Wheeler Building, 1339 Laney-Walker Blvd.: Built in 1924, it is the last remaining building of the original Haines Normal and Industrial Institute. The building is named for philanthropist Alice Wheeler of New York and her nurse, Mary Cauley. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Haines Alumni Association owns the structure, and the Richmond County Board of Education holds a long-term lease.

The Bon Air, now a low-income apartment building, was one of five sites placed on Historic Augusta’s 2013 Endangered Properties List, along with two school buildings, a 19th century Broad Street building and a Laney-Walker neighborhood house.

Historic Augusta compiles the list to draw attention to buildings of historic significance that are in danger of being lost. This year’s list, announced Tuesday, targeted properties that are in danger of deteriorating because of neglect or misuse.

“They might not be right at the point of being demolished or neglected to the point that they are about to collapse,” said Erick Montgomery, the executive director of Historic Augusta. “Hopefully, we can get ahead of the game and work with the property owners to get these done.”

The architectural character of the Bon Air has been compromised by the owner, who removes historic features such as balconies and windows bit-by-bit, Montgomery said. The apartment building draws complaints from the surrounding neighborhood, he said.

“This is a stunning and iconic building in Augusta, particularly on The Hill. It represents our tourist history more than any other building,” Montgomery said. “We think it’s time Augusta reclaims this landmark for its highest and best use.”

Potential uses for the historic hotel include a conference center, upscale housing or a mixed-use residential and commercial property, he said.

A recently vacated school owned by the Richmond County Board of Education was also added to the list. Although restored in recent years, Lamar Elementary School closed this year with the opening of the new Lamar-Milledge Elementary School.

Montgomery said the school board has a track record of letting historic schools deteriorate before listing them for demolition. Four historic schools have been listed before.

Two buildings in the historic Laney-Walker neighborhood were also added to the list. The Cauley-Wheeler Building, the only remaining structure from the original campus of Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, could be razed to make room for new buildings on the Laney High School campus, Montgomery said.

Nearby, the circa-1926 Bohler House needs a face-lift, which Montgomery said is representative of many houses in Laney-Walker. Efforts by the city to restore the area have focused on building new houses rather than restoring old ones.

“I haven’t seen any preservation yet,” he said. “It’s all demolition by neglect or outright demolition.”

The last property on the list is the Erbelding Building on Broad Street. It is one of a few properties left that represent the 19th-century architecture that was once prominent in downtown Augusta, Montgomery said.

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omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 11/20/12 - 01:40 pm
3
0
Several years have passed

Several years have passed since the Martha B. Lester school has had a "this building hath been saved" sign stuck in front.

Dunno whats been saved. The metal roof has started to shear away from the rafters on the right side of the building.

So far as I can tell all thats been added is a chain link fence and a 'for sale' sign.

Riverman1
90741
Points
Riverman1 11/20/12 - 01:57 pm
7
0
If ASU-MCG can somehow use

If ASU-MCG can somehow use this magnificent building or the Partridge Inn if it folds, it would be fantastic.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 11/20/12 - 02:01 pm
2
0
Any updates on the B and B

Any updates on the B and B out at the end of Laney Walker where it hits Sandbar Ferry? The chimney pulled away and collapse I think. It was listed this past year and just didn't know the status of its rehab.

story1
807
Points
story1 11/20/12 - 02:17 pm
4
2
The Thrill Is Gone

The Bon Air is a beautiful building with loads of historic value. When downtown Augusta was thriving as an entertainment destination during the 30s, 40s and 50s, the Bon Air was the grandest hotel in the south. Unfortunately, the Bon Air's charm and downtown Augusta being considered an entertainment destination are in the past.

Jake
33415
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Jake 11/20/12 - 02:25 pm
6
0
Sue Reynolds

On a recent trip to Augusta I was a little dismayed, but not surprised, to see the bad condition of the original Sue Reynolds elementary school on Wrightsboro Rd. Not sure what can be done with it now but it is still a fine looking building.

Mr. Thackeray
957
Points
Mr. Thackeray 11/20/12 - 02:31 pm
4
2
We must do all we can to

We must do all we can to preserve our history through these, an other buildings. Too many communities allow these to degrade to the point of demolition.

pointstoponder
469
Points
pointstoponder 11/20/12 - 02:53 pm
1
5
Won't somebody (else) please

Won't somebody (else) please help!!!!!!

soapy_725
43963
Points
soapy_725 11/20/12 - 04:54 pm
1
0
What happened to all other ARC building prior
Unpublished

to 1900? Seems the list of late never includes building of the previous 165 years of Augusta History? So now we care. Who was in charge when it became a Section 8 abode. Seems we have decided to tear down all of the other "roach motels". Someone in power is seeing mega dollar signs. Just like the philanthropic revival in Olde Towne. Appraisals a two hundred percent of value + government grants of 50 % of appraised value equals money in the bank. And we may do it a second time. ARC taxpayers cannot remember s_____.

soapy_725
43963
Points
soapy_725 11/20/12 - 04:57 pm
0
1
Please take more of our tax money to fill the
Unpublished

bank accounts of local developers and politicians. Save out town. Save our Town. BAH BAH BAH

Who was caring when they demolished the buildings on Reynolds St? Or the buildings on Broad St?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/20/12 - 05:11 pm
2
3
Quick Someone take

the microphone away from Fred Russell before he and the Downtown 6 propose a SPLOST, and we see a "Save the B" group start up.

TrukinRanger
1748
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TrukinRanger 11/20/12 - 06:54 pm
1
0
you won't be able to do
Unpublished

you won't be able to do anything substantial while the Bon Air is low income housing. PERIOD

scorehouse
196
Points
scorehouse 11/20/12 - 06:58 pm
0
1
wrong on the bon air
Unpublished

it went from being a hotel to a retirement community. the olympic size pool and other amenties were regularly used by the residents. there was resident dining and also an independent bar on the premise. the building is way outdated and inefficient. i don't know when it degenerated into free housing. this is not a structure to waste another dime of taxpayer money!

CobaltGeorge
170599
Points
CobaltGeorge 11/21/12 - 07:24 am
0
2
Wrong Location

Wrong Location

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