There might be more thrills on Mockingbird Hill

When Herbert Harden joined the Augusta's Engine Co. No. 8 on Central Avenue in late 1949, there wasn't much to look at outside the firehouse.


"There was nothing across the street except kudzu," said his widow, Betty Harden. "They were there 24 hours a day. They wanted to fix up the yard."

The firefighters' beautification of the area led to an Augusta favorite called Mockingbird Hill, a miniature town on a grassy hill on Central Avenue. In 2006, the buildings were removed and put into storage because of the expansion of the Highland Avenue Water Treatment Park, but they are scheduled to make a return when the project is complete in 2009.

"The design of the building called for a spot for the Mockingbird village," said Debra James, public affairs specialist for Parsons Water and Infrastructure, the construction management company for the water treatment project.

Ms. James said she wants to enlist civic groups, Scout troops or anyone else interested in taking one of the three remaining Mockingbird Hill buildings and refurbishing and reinstalling it next year.

She said Parsons would provide supplies for the project.

The Mockingbird Hill project began in 1951. Capt. Carl Daniels was the fire station's chief and a great supporter of the village idea.

Jack Browning, the father of firefighter Claude Browning, built most of the original structures, according to an article published in The Augusta Chronicle on Aug. 12, 1992.

Mrs. Harden said most of the station's original firefighters have died. One lives in Texas with his daughter and is in poor health.

The village began with a goldfish pond, but over the next five years several structures were added. At one time, there was a mill house with a working water wheel.

Mrs. Harden said the area was especially popular during Christmas and Easter, when families would bring their children to have photographs taken. During Christmas, firefighters would decorate the village with lights.

The name for the village came from a song popular during 1951, Mockin' Bird Hill, by Mary Ford and Les Paul, according to the 1992 Chronicle article.

Ms. James said she's also looking for a location such as a museum, community center or library to display the buildings before their re-installation. Also, she would like photos of the village.

For more information, call Ms. James at (678) 969-2309.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at


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