Can one of Georgia’s oldest surviving homes be saved? Wes Sims, who purchased the circa-1799 Goodale House in 2009, vowed to keep the house on Sand Bar Ferry Road standing.
His efforts were thwarted last week when Richmond County Magistrate Court deemed the Federal-style building listed on the National Register of Historic Places a “nuisance property.” In August 2011, the three-story house’s west-facing chimney and adjoining wall collapsed.
Sims, of Birmingham, Ala., was ordered to either repair or demolish the structure, which he plans to restore as a bed and breakfast. Sims was not present at last week’s court hearing, but said he did not receive the notice until two days after the hearing.
In 2012, an engineering assessment financed by a $5,000 grant determined the house appeared to be stable. The house was on Historic Augusta’s 2012 Endangered Properties List.
Sims, who tried but was unsuccessful this week obtaining a copy of the court order so he can appeal it, answered five questions for The Augusta Chronicle on his plans for the Goodale House.
Q. Will you try to restore the Goodale House or tear it down.
A. My whole intention from the first day I bought it was to restore it. That’s never going to change.
Q. Why has it taken so long to perform work on the house?
A. After I purchased the property, I was performing different renovations it needed. Then, the wall fell. It stopped everything in its tracks. The cost to repair it was too much.
Q. Will the latest ruling deeming the house a “nuisance property” encourage you to make progress on restoring the house?
A. No, because I have been encouraged from day one. This ruling is only hindering me from putting more of my effort into the home because now I have a legal battle to fight besides restoring the Goodale.
Q. How do you intend to fund the home renovation?
A. I have several investments I am trying to cash in at the moment in order to restore the Goodale. I am trying to sell some of the properties I own.
Q. Do you feel the city and Historic Augusta have helped or hindered you with the project?
A. Both. The city’s not helping now but they have been working with me over the last couple of years in dealing with the situation with the wall. Historic Augusta, they helped by giving a $5,000 grant for the home. However, I don’t think the $5,000 grant was put to the best use. To me, it should have been put into bricks and mortar and not into a study for the home.