Originally created 04/12/06

Pine Heights remains site for treating what ails people



Pine Heights, which was built as a hotel sanitarium in North Augusta, circa 1898, has come full circle.

"It served initially as a hospital for the Hampton Terrace," said Dr. Joe Holt, who bought the property that was on the verge of being condemned in 1993. "When you went on vacation back then, you took your relatives that were ill with you."

Today, the building houses several apartments and The Family Center, where Dr. Holt is the clinical director. The Family Center offers a variety of programs including child psychology and parenting services in addition to domestic violence and substance abuse treatment.

"Clients have enjoyed it," he said. "They'd drive by and see this huge house, and it became a good excuse to stop and look at it."

The Georgia Avenue structure, which was built on land that once was part of the Robert J. Butler plantation, is part of the Butler Avenue Historic District that includes the former Hampton Terrace property and several buildings associated with the hotel.

Pine Heights, which originally had 12 hospital rooms and served as the hotel sanitarium from 1900 to 1916, has had other uses.

After the Hampton Terrace burned down in 1916, Dr. Holt said, Pine Heights probably became a place to lodge guests.

The pages of a 1907 hotel registry, which he found in the basement, include the signatures of Dr. R.E. Lee, the son of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, and John Fitzgerald, President Kennedy's maternal grandfather.

In the 1920s, it was the spring training headquarters for the Detroit Tigers, which then was managed by Ty Cobb, Dr. Holt said.

At one point, he said, the sanitarium was a clinic for "surgical diseases of women" from 3 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

In one room, he has a display of old medical equipment that he found in the basement.

The 10,000-square-foot, 34-room structure was a private residence from 1928 to 1993, said Dr. Holt, who has spent years restoring the house.

The second-story covered porch boasts a number of St. Andrew's crosses in its design. Dr. Holt said it was no accident that the Confederate battle flag symbol was incorporated into the roof and doorway of the porch.

The Southern construction workers who built the house incorporated the crosses into the design in defiance of the Northerners who financed the construction, he said.

The house features four Ionic columns that support the second-story porch.

Dr. Holt said the building had one of the city's first phone booths, which still stands in a first-floor hallway near the original electrical panel box and beside the hospital call box.

The nurses that operated the sanitarium lived in the small houses on Ridgecrest Avenue behind Pine Heights, Dr. Holt said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.