The Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods are the focus of an upcoming photography workshop and jazz music series, both spotlighting ongoing efforts to revitalize an area that was once a vibrant spot for cultural activities.
The Augusta Photography Festival Inc. chose the neighborhoods as subjects for a photo festival to capture images of historic architecture and document changes in the area, said Rebecca Rogers, an organizer of the workshop.
“There are some interesting works of architecture there, some very handmade craftsmanship with interesting stories of makers and people that lived there,” she said. “As progress moves on, it won’t be there in years to come.”
Held Friday through Sunday, the workshop begins with a lecture on the neighborhoods’ black history by Dr. Lee Ann Caldwell, the chairwoman of the Center for the Study of Georgia History at Georgia Regents University. Participants, who should be familiar with digital SLR cameras, will then walk to important sites.
Participants will photograph the old – such as the former Penny Savings Bank, St. Benedict’s orphanage and the home of prominent physician and pharmacist S.S. Johnson – and the new housing in the Heritage Pine development.
Celebrating the old and new was important for local jazz musician Karen Gordon when she reached out to the city’s Housing and Community Development Department about planning a music series.
“The area is rich in history and culture,” said Gordon, of Garden City Jazz. “Especially with the African-American community, jazz music is a very important part of our culture.”
The concerts will begin Oct. 12 at the small park recently dedicated on Pine Street, Gordon said.
She said she hopes to connect with musicians who grew up attending schools in the neighborhood or those that still live in Laney-Walker and Bethlehem.
“Even though the neighborhood has changed, those musicians went on to expand their legacy, and now they have a chance to give back to the community,” she said.