Originally created 10/16/06

Endangered skyline



Anne Catherine Murray couldn't imagine Augusta's skyline without Sibley Mill's regal brick parapets.

"Think how terrible it would be if it were gone," she said of the ornate textile giant that has overlooked the Augusta Canal since 1882.

Mrs. Murray, who leads a committee established by Historic Augusta Inc. to identify the city's most endangered buildings, wanted Sibley on the list because of its recent closure - and its potential to fall victim to neglect.

The mill, made with 550,000 bricks salvaged from the ruins of the Confederate Powderworks built there during the Civil War, adjoins the Powderworks Chimney, one of the few surviving structures erected by the Confederacy.

In the quest to identify Augusta's most endangered buildings, it wasn't hard to find enough properties to make the list, she said. Rather, it was a challenge to whittle the numbers down to a manageable number.

Churches, in particular, are vanishing at an alarming pace in Augusta and many other cities, Mrs. Murray said.

"Congregations change and move to the suburbs. It's tough for those old downtown churches," she said.

Augusta's success stories include Old Union Church on Greene Street, where $300,000 in renovations has helped it recover from dilapidation over time.

One of Historic Augusta's purposes is to help owners of historic properties find ways to protect and preserve them, said Erick Montgomery, the organization's executive director.

"It really helps to speak up," he said. "Sometimes, just talking about these buildings will get someone interested."

The endangered buildings list is in its inaugural year, he said, but it will likely be updated annually.

Criteria used to identify endangered properties include - in addition to architectural or historic significance - being at least 50 years old and facing potential harm from neglect, pending demolition or public policy decisions that could hasten its destruction, Mrs. Murray said.

The most common threat to historic buildings is neglect, which can be as fatal to old structures as a wrecking ball, she said.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

Endangered Properties on Historic Augusta's list

Sibley Mill

Address: 1717 Goodrich St.

Owner: Avondale Mills Inc.

Background: Vacant and vulnerable to "demolition by neglect," it was built in 1880 and occupies the site of the Confederate Powderworks that operated along the Augusta Canal during the Civil War.

Crescent Mill (Southern Milling Co.)

Address: 1015 Twiggs St.

Owner: Edgar Matthews

Background: Built as a flour mill in the 1850s, the now-vacant building was more recently a feed mill and has been proposed for demolition to save its antique timbers.

Denning House

Address: 905 Seventh St.

Owner: Carl Brown

Background: Built in the 1860s, the house is part of the Third Level Canal zone.

Greek Revival Home

Address: 811 D'Antignac St.

Owner: Atlanta Gas Light Co.

Background: Built in the 1850s, it is part of the Third Level Canal zone.

Reynolds Street Depot

Address: 511 Reynolds St. at Fifth Street

Owner: City of Augusta, might be sold to developer

Background: Built around 1850 by the S.C. Railroad Co. with adjoining warehouses built in 1900, it could be incorporated into a proposed condo development.

St. Benedict's Boarding School

Address: 1220 12th St.

Owner: Charles L. Tennison

Background: Built by Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in 1901 and used as a boarding school and orphanage for black girls, it is now vacant.

Old Davidson School

Address: 1114 Telfair St.

Owner: Richmond County Board of Education

Background: Built in 1934 in the Art Moderne architectural style, it is now vacant.

Old YWCA Gym, Natatorium

Address: 924 Greene St.

Owner: St. Stephen Ministry

Background: Built in 1916 as an exercise facility for young ladies, it has an indoor pool. Generations of families sent their children to social classes taught there by Henri Price. It is now vacant.

Old Veterans Administration Hospital

Address: 2400 block of Wrightsboro Road

Owner: U.S. Government

Background: Built in 1912-13, it was used as a girls' boarding school, then a hotel, before becoming a hospital in 1919. The site includes historic homes.

Old Trinity Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Address: 731 Taylor St.

Owner: Atlanta Gas Light Co. and leased to Miracle Making Ministries

Background: Founded in 1840 from the St. John Methodist Episcopal Church on Greene Street for black members, it occupied that site thereafter and is the birthplace of the denomination, and thus one of the most significant churches in Augusta.

Augusta Waterworks Buildings

Address: Central Avenue and Goodrich Street along the Augusta Canal

Owner: City of Augusta

Background: The raw water treatment plant on Central Avenue and the 1899 pumping station along the Augusta Canal are vulnerable to changing engineering needs and the consequences of age.

Stovall Barnes House

Address: 1211 Greene St.

Owner: Carlo Bracci

Background: Part of Greene Street gateway corridor, it was built in 1860.

Greene Street Corridor Home

Address: 1223 Greene St.

Owner: Franke M. Fowke, under contract to Laurie McRae

Background: Late 19th century Victorian townhouse.

Greene Street Corridor Home

Address: 1225 Greene St.

Owner: Francois Savoy

Background: Late 19th century Victorian townhouse.

Greene Street Presbyterian Church

Address: 1235 Greene St.

Owner: Greene Street Presbyterian Church

Background: Built in 1906, it is sparsely used and has redevelopment potential.

Information source and photos: Historic Augusta