Give hope to old buildings

I read your recent “good news, bad news” article relating to the pending sale of the old Davidson School (“School board votes to sell old Davidson building,” May 15) with mixed emotions. I was glad the Richmond County Board of Education has found a buyer for the building, getting cash for an unproductive asset, but I was dismayed to learn that the buyer plans to demolish the handsome old building.

 

This historically significant school, fondly remembered by many classes of graduates, was built in 1933 and features design, craftsmanship and materials that cannot be duplicated. Its key location bridging Augusta’s downtown and the medical complex made it an excellent candidate for redevelopment. Furthermore, had the BOE simply kept it in reasonably sound condition, it would have been eligible for substantial rehab tax credits and could have been sold for much more than the amount they will receive now.

It is particularly frustrating to me that, for years, as the building slowly deteriorated, Historic Augusta pleaded with the BOE to allow us to help them find a qualified buyer, but the BOE finally accepted our offer of assistance only recently when the process of “demolition by neglect” had made successful rehab virtually impossible.

It is historic buildings such as Davidson that give Augusta its character and charm. Our historic neighborhoods are our competitive advantage over other communities; we need to make every effort to preserve them.

But I believe we do have reason to hope this loss will not be repeated. The BOE recently did a wonderful job rehabbing Tubman Junior High on Walton Way, and was commended by Historic Augusta for that effort. I am hopeful the BOE now realizes the great economic value of its historic school buildings, both to itself and to all Augustans.

The BOE will have a chance to demonstrate this newfound concern with their management of Joseph Lamar Elementary School on Baker Street, another landmark structure they have recently vacated. I will be watching with optimistic interest.

Tennent Houston

Augusta

 

(The writer is chairman of the Preservation Committee for Historic Augusta Inc.)

School board votes to sell old Davidson building

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