Historic Augusta is honored for restoration projects

Historic Augusta Inc. honored seven outstanding historic preservation projects Monday night and was also the recipient of two statewide honors bestowed by the Georgia Historical Society.

During the nonprofit group's annual meeting at the Joseph R. Lamar Boyhood Home on Seventh Street, the organization was presented with two 2009 Roger K. Warlick Local History Achievement Awards, which recognize efforts by historical groups to collect and share the state's history in six categories: affiliate of the year, archival excellence, exhibits, media project, programs and preservation project.

Historic Augusta's two awards, presented by Georgia Historical Society President Todd Groce, were for the programs category, honoring Walk With the Spirits at Magnolia Cemetery, and in the preservation projects category, for the restoration of Union Baptist Church.

Walk With the Spirits introduced Georgians to notable Augusta residents interred at Magnolia Cemetery through a guided tour that highlighted gravestone iconography and featured costumed re-enactors.

The project award focused on a nearly 15-year effort to restore Union Baptist Church. The project began in the mid-1990s with a $39,000 grant to refurbish the roof, and since 2004 more than $500,000 has been raised to continue the effort.

The site has a rich history, stretching back to the founding of a mission church for Augusta textile mill workers in 1851 and its use by the Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson (father of President Wilson) as a Sunday school for blacks during the Civil War.

The seven historic preservation projects honored with awards Monday were:

- 728 Milledge Road, the John Forsyth House, in the Summerville Historic District. The main house, a Sand Hills cottage, was built in 1857. Rehabilitation began in late 2007 and was completed Thanksgiving 2008. A preservation certificate was presented to Mr. and Mrs. Eric Smith.

- 4201/2 Eighth St. -- Cheatham, Fletcher, Scott Architects office, in Augusta Downtown Historic District, purchased in 1985 by the firm. Rehabilitation completed in the past two years to reveal details on the cast-iron storefront. A preservation certificate was presented to Cheatham, Fletcher, Scott Architects.

- 609 Telfair St., the Hugh Dempsey House, built about 1870. Mr. Dempsey established the Southern Express Co., precursor to United Parcel Service. It is in Augusta Downtown Historic District and was bought in March 2007, with work completed in April 2008. A preservation award was presented to Mr. and Mrs. Matt Aitken.

- 2200 Broad St. -- Julian Smith Casino, built in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project on Lake Olmstead. A preservation award was presented to the Recreation Department of Augusta-Richmond County, Tom Beck Jr.

- 1005 Milledge Road, the William B. White House, in the Summerville Historic District, was built in 1911. Purchased in 1950 to serve as the Augusta Women's Club. The house was bought in 2004, and rehabilitation was completed early this year. A preservation award was presented to Mr. and Mrs. Greg Boulus.

- The Stovall-Barnes House, 1211 Greene St., in Augusta Downtown Historic District, was built about 1860 as a single-family residence. Rehabilitation began in 2007, resulting in four luxury apartments in the main house and two in the separate kitchen building. Preservation awards were presented to Paul King, Tom Robertson and Tennent Houston.

- Union Baptist Church, 1102 Greene St., in Downtown Augusta Historic District. Built about 1851, with the current facade and towers built in 1888. Recent restoration has been given several awards, including the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's Marguerite Williams Award. A preservation award was presented to Tennent Houston and the Rev. William Wright.


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