Originally created 02/11/04

Fire station will remain on Central



A historic firehouse in the heart of Augusta's Summerville neighborhood will not be torn down, city leaders said Tuesday at a public hearing to discuss the fate of Central Avenue's Station No. 7.

What will become of the now-vacant 1913 firehouse still is uncertain, however, in part because restoring the building could cost close to $1 million. Early estimates for the renovation and restoration of the 6,500-square-foot facility place costs between $805,000 and $965,000. Work would include new roofing, electrical systems, plumbing and telecommunication lines.

"There is no intent on our part to ever let that building be torn down," said Mike Rogers, a chief deputy of the Richmond County Fire Department.

He, along with Mayor Bob Young, led a public hearing to discuss the fire station's future Tuesday night.

The fire department vacated the station in November to move into a newer, more modern facility on the growing south side of town.

Suggested uses for the historic station included turning it into a fire museum or administrative offices for the fire department or using it as a special operations facility for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Ideally, said Erick Montgomery, of Historic Augusta Inc., the building would be restored for public use, such as a community center or a public meeting space.

"People in the community love the building," Mr. Montgomery said.

About two dozen people showed up for the public hearing, including Jack and Esther Waterston, who live across the street from the Spanish Colonial Revival-style structure.

Mr. Waterston's Central Avenue home, which has been in his family for two generations, was built just two years after the city fire station and by the same contractor.

He and his wife would like to see the station restored to its original design, with rounded bay doors and terra cotta roof tile.

Their primary concern has been quelled, however.

"The main thing I wanted the answer to was the question, 'If somebody bought it, can somebody tear it down?'" Mr. Waterston said.

Restoration carpenter and Central Avenue resident Randy Potter, who also attended the public hearing, said he worried the city might tear the station down.

"My big concern was that this thing didn't get bulldozed in the middle of the night," Mr. Potter said.

Mr. Waterston agreed, saying, "I'll sleep good tonight."

The Augusta Commission will consider comments from the public hearing, likely sometime next month. Additional comments will be received for the next seven days at the Office of the Mayor, 530 Greene St., Augusta, GA 30911.

Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215

or heidi.williams@augustachronicle.com.