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Augusta's Goodale House facing demolition

Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 9:16 PM
Last updated Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 2:30 AM
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After a 214-year run as one of Georgia’s oldest surviving homes, Augusta’s Goodale House soon might be headed for the brickyard.

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The Federal-style Goodale House was built in 1799 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
The Federal-style Goodale House was built in 1799 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Built in 1799 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, the Federal-style building was deemed a “nuisance property” in Richmond County Magistrate Court this week and its owner, Wes Sims, was ordered to either repair or demolish the structure.

Rob Sherman, Augusta-Richmond County’s development manager, said the ruling comes after more than two years of frustration in which Sims promised, but has not made, progress on repairing the three-story house’s west-facing chimney and adjoining wall, both of which collapsed in August 2011.

“We want him to do something,” Sherman said. “Fix it, demolish it, but do something.”

Sherman said Sims’ relationship with the city has gotten to the point that the Birmingham, Ala., investor will not return phone calls.

Sims was not present during the hearing this week; however, he said in a phone interview that he did not receive notice the city planned to contest his property’s demolition in court for its being a public health hazard until two days after Monday’s hearing.

The notice was sent by certified mail Oct. 9, but Sims said he had been in Tampa, Fla., for the past two weeks tending to his grandfather, who is ill.

“I can’t believe that they could do this. That was the only form of communication I received before they ordered demolition,” Sims said. “I would have been in a court without a doubt, but basically since I did not show up, there was a judgment issued against me. At least give me a fair chance to fight for my property.”

As of Friday, the house was still standing and no demolition date has been set. The long-vacant house on Sand Bar Ferry Road was used as a restaurant in the 1970s and early 1980s and was for sale and priced in the $250,000 range for several years before ultimately selling to Sims for less than $20,000.

Sherman said Sims must provide a detailed plan of the improvements he will make to the house and when. If Sims fails to respond in a timely manner, the city will proceed with demolition.

Sims said he is seeking an attorney in Augusta to file a motion to appeal the ruling and possibly vacate the judgment.

“They just do not operate that fast with these kind of things, but this could be a special circumstance and they might want to wipe it under the rug and demolition it quickly,” he said.

Sims said he still plans to fix the house, adding that last week he received interest from another investor who would like to help with restoration, possibly transforming it into a bed-and-breakfast with some type of historical display inside.

“There definitely needs to be some forward action involved, even though to me, I do not think it is a public health hazard,” he said. “The public should not be in my house.”

Robyn Anderson, the preservation services director for Historic Augusta, said the building has been named to the nonprofit preservation society’s endangered property list. The organization has been very involved with Sims to advocate on behalf of the house and offer assistance to fix it, she said.

“The wall can be rebuilt; the building can be stabilized, according to an engineering survey we had done,” Anderson said, adding that Historic Augusta would hate to see the building go.

“It is unfortunate it had to come to this point, but I don’t think that the building is going to be demolished anytime soon,” she said. “It might fall down a little bit more before anybody would bulldoze it.”

Comments (11) Add comment
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raul
4531
Points
raul 11/01/13 - 10:17 pm
5
2
I wonder if there was a

I wonder if there was a particular reason the city targeted Sim's house? There are houses all around Augusta falling in on themselves that are not designated as historic and have been around for years. Sim's house stands alone in is in no danger of falling onto adjacent properties. And as Sim's said "the public should not be in my house". I would cut him some slack and extend the timeframe for allowing Sims to take action on the property. Meanwhile, go after all of the abandoned properties with seemingly as much zest as this one.

LuvMyTown
2009
Points
LuvMyTown 11/02/13 - 02:52 am
2
2
Two years and Owner has done nothing.

Highly visible and accessible nuisance property. Glad the City is paying attention. Too much slack cut to negligent property owners has hurt Augusta's tax base leaving fewer to pay more.

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 11/02/13 - 06:53 am
0
1
Waiting on a federal grant? Investment in the ARC of No Covenant
Unpublished

Waiting on a federal grant? Investment in the ARC of No Covenant

seenitB4
85139
Points
seenitB4 11/02/13 - 09:07 am
6
0
Grand Ole House

I enjoyed the restaurant a few times in the years past...the owner was kin to friends of mine in South Carolina.....it was always interesting to me & a part of history.....amazing so many other homes are caving in but this one seems to be on the chopping block...I wonder why.

crossyourarms
211
Points
crossyourarms 11/02/13 - 12:38 pm
5
0
I take it nobody has driven

I take it nobody has driven down Twiggs St or Old Savannah road between Laney-Walker Blvd and Gordon Hwy. Some houses without a roof still standing.

wessims
56
Points
wessims 11/02/13 - 03:24 pm
2
1
It's a fact something needs

It's a fact something needs done and the sooner the better. What isn't right is that there are laws and protections in place that must be followed and the County neglected their responsibility to follow them. I was NOT in court because I was not properly summoned as spelled out in the laws of Georgia. Besides having the burden of having to repair a fallen wall now I must fight a legal battle that has been tainted before it ever started. There's good reason I'm a "target". Is it coincidence that the initial court filing is dated the same day as the latest offer to purchase the property? Well, good things are happening and the Goodale WILL stand again as it did 200 years ago. My promise to restore the Goodale is still valid despite the numerous setbacks.

Pops
7704
Points
Pops 11/02/13 - 04:47 pm
2
0
Why not sell

it to Bonnie Ruben????

diamond in the rough
45
Points
diamond in the rough 11/03/13 - 08:21 am
1
0
Plenty of time

Mr Sims had plenty of time to do something with Goodale he just didn't have plenty of money, some investor! It's time yes it is an eye sore and a disgrace! My wish is for somebody to buy it back and bring it back to life! Thank you AUGUSTA!

diamond in the rough
45
Points
diamond in the rough 11/03/13 - 08:23 am
1
0
Goodale

If you need to get a hold on Mr Sims he has a FACEBOOK PAGE and an email address.

daviddunagan
331
Points
daviddunagan 11/03/13 - 08:43 am
1
0
I challenge you...

Read some of Joseph M. Lee's III books that detail Old Augusta and imagine if our forefathers had tried to save more old buildings and homes that were in disrepair and that didn't have a good use at the time. We may have had a different landscape today. Something more like Charlestown or Savannah. It's adds up one building at a time. DD

wessims
56
Points
wessims 11/03/13 - 12:41 pm
0
1
My apologies to Diamond in

My apologies to Diamond in the Rough and all of Augusta for not being a good enough investor to have the Goodale in the best of shape. You are absolutely right in your comment that I don't have the required capitol to fix the Goodale. Things were a lot different for me when I acquired the Goodale and I had all four walls. Regardless, the Goodale will be restored and it will no longer be a nuisance to those who feel that way. It has stood 214 years, built long before most everything else in the southeast and it still stands strong despite it's handicap. The beautiful Goodale once stood overlooking it's farmland with a perfect river view and now...It's surrounded by a chemical plant, a warehouse, a Levi, and a highway. What is the real blight here??? Thank you Augusta!

deborah30906
5
Points
deborah30906 11/03/13 - 04:53 pm
0
0
It may be an eyesore, but it

It may be an eyesore, but it can be fixed. The public shouldn't be in there but it's not the general public you must worry about. Impossible to keep them out. You can bet that when the city moves this quick on something, there is someone behind it. Been there, done that with the city before. Lost my property. I wish you better luck with yours.

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