Originally created 05/07/99

Hospital's plan end community of Frog Hollow



Unbeknownst to residents of Frog Hollow, the fate of their neighborhood was being discussed at Augusta's city hall in 1962.

That year in a general referendum, Richmond County voters approved a $5 million bond issue as the initial step for construction of University Hospital.

"The Augusta Hospital Authority had indicated they desired the Urban Renewal Department to make the land available for this improvement," Mayor Millard A. Beckum wrote in the city's annual report to the community.

As officials made plans for the hospital in early 1963, "it only seemed natural to utilize urban renewal as a means to provide the site," Mr. Beckum wrote in the city's year-end report for 1963. "The site agreed on was to begin at 13th out to Harper Street, on to 15th Street and out to Walton Way back to 13th Street."

Thus was the beginning of the end of Frog Hollow. The new hospital's site boundaries were exactly those of the entire neighborhood, comprising 94 acres and 508 homes.

Residents affectionately dubbed the area as Frog Hollow, a name likely in general use by 1900. Former residents generally attribute the name to frogs of nearby Augusta Canal or an earlier pond on the north side of Walton Way at Allen Park. Peabody Park Apartments now stand where the frog pond once existed.

In Augusta's early days, the Frog Hollow area was a swamp. A plank road was constructed along the swamp's northern edge from Augusta to Summerville with a toll gate at 15th Street -- then called West Boundary or Carnes Road. First called the Augusta-Summerville Plank Road, the avenue now is known as Walton Way.

Frog Hollow, a community of cotton mill workers and city employees, existed from 1863 to 1968. John and Charlotte Silcox subdivided part of Frog Hollow into 24 residential lots in March 1863.

Mr. Silcox sold nine lots on April 9, 1863, and the rest by July. The original lot owners (some bought two or more lots) were Philip Mullen, William Ramsey, Luther Roll, Wiley Fulghum, Sarah Hill, Edwin Philips, Charles Strickland, Alonzo Crombe, Otis Lynch, Hattie Hull, Thomas Lord, John Hobart, L.B. Beaner, Simeon Barfish and William Belding.

Frog Hollow was developed in stages, in distinct sections and by different owners. George A. Bailie developed the area between Liberty and Young streets; the city of Augusta, the portion between Young and 13th streets; and James and John Harper between Estes and Harper streets. Original vacant lots were still being sold after 1900.

Over the years, three elementary schools served the neighborhood: Woodlawn school at Harper and 15th streets, Lawton B. Evans school at Young Street and Walton Way and D'Antignac school. Woodlawn was torn down in the 1960s and replaced by what now is the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home; Lawton B. Evans was demolished in 1997; the D'Antignac school building, although not used as such in decades, still stands today at D'Antignac and 13th streets.

Frog Hollow became a distinct and crowded neighborhood. But by the 1930s, residential structures were in decline. In 1939, the U.S. Works Progress Administration -- one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal agencies -- completed a report entitled The Real Property, Land Use and Low Income Housing Area Survey of Augusta, Georgia.

In Frog Hollow, the report noted 789 homes -- all but 24 built in 1919 or before. More than half -- 434 -- needed major repairs or were unfit for use; 450 had no private toilet or bath (indicating there were still many outhouses in Frog Hollow in the 1930s).

Only 103 of the homes were occupied by the owners; so 686 were rented to tenants. Monthly rents ranged from $7.71 to $17.13. Slightly more than two percent of the households were of a race other than white.

Few new residential structures or additions were built and for the most part, only necessary repairs were made. However, most houses had indoor plumbing and bathrooms by the 1950s. And during that decade, paving of most of Frog Hollow's dirt streets and sidewalks began.

Urban renewal, the last phase of Frog Hollow's existence, began in the 1950s. Local officials called it the University Hospital Project. Purchase of the land gave the Richmond County Hospital Authority a convenient site to build University Hospital and provided property for some Medical College of Georgia buildings and what today is the Downtown Division of Augusta's Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.

Frog Hollow residents began relocating in 1965 to make way for University Hospital. On Tuesday, July 2, 1968, the last family signed a deed transferring their house and lot to the Augusta City Council. They packed their belongings and on Sunday, July 7, 1968, they walked out and closed the door.

Frog Hollow died that day. There was not a single living soul left in the old neighborhood.

James S. Dorrill, a native of Frog Hollow, was born on Estes Street in 1942. His family lived in the community through four generations from 1902 to 1965. Mr. Dorrill, who has published a book on Frog Hollow, can be reached at (706) 722-9255.