I have loved downtown Augusta since I moved here with my parents almost 14 years ago. In that time, I have seen the downtown area struggle on a journey to reclaim a long-forgotten dignity that once stood as the central defining character of our city.
I have supported revitalization of downtown as fully as I know how: it's where I live, work, shop and play.
Because of my love for the downtown area, I read with great interest about the collapse of the old Augusta Hotel at the corner of Broad and Sixth streets. Every morning, as I walk to work, I pass that location and I've often thought what a neglected treasure the building represented - from its distinctive architecture to the decades-old advertisements that have now been reduced to an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle of chipped paint on broken bricks.
I wonder how many wonderful stories were buried in the rubble when the neglected building could no longer support its own weight.
The loss of the Augusta Hotel is an undeniable tragedy. I do not wish to minimize that at all - but even more so, I hope we never repeat the mistake.
As I walk to work every morning, I pass many buildings that seem to exist in a similar condition as the Augusta Hotel. Rotten plywood covers every door and window - presumably to keep out vandals. But who is protecting the buildings from what Augusta-Richmond County Historic Preservation Commission member Bryan Haltermann described so well as "demolition by neglect?"
Augusta has a heritage richer than most of the cities in this country, especially when it comes to the age and beauty of our architecture.
I hope that we can learn from the loss of the Augusta Hotel and persuade the offending downtown property owners to maintain both the structures, which are legally theirs, and the rich cultural heritage that belongs to us all.
Will Sansbury, Augusta
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