Historic Augusta releases most-endangered sites list

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009 10:43 AM
Last updated 5:42 PM
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Five aging buildings, including a former funeral home and a downtown car dealership, were identified Tuesday as some of Augusta’s most endangered historic properties.

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Jacob Phinizy House  Special
Special
Jacob Phinizy House

The list, produced by Historic Augusta Inc., is an annual project designed to identify and focus attention on important structures or groups of buildings that could be lost to neglect, demolition, inappropriate alterations, vandalism or poor public policy decisions, said W. Tennent Houston, the organization’s president.

“We consider our historic neighborhoods and buildings to be Augusta’s competitive edge,” he said. “Every time a building is saved, Augusta is made richer. Every time a building is lost, all of Augusta becomes poorer.”

The 2010 endangered properties list marks the group’s fourth year of special recognition for important properties deemed to be imperiled.

This year’s list also includes private family cemeteries, including the Coleman Leigh Warren Cemetery and Cottage Cemetery off Marvin Griffin Road, said Erick Montgomery, Historic Augusta’s executive director.

Also listed this year was the Jacob Phinizy House, built in 1882 and used from 1938 until recent years as a funeral home. Inside, its elaborate ironwork and ceiling mural of cherubs are among many unusual features that warrant the building’s preservation and restoration, he said.

Also listed was the Pontiac Master Auto Service Building, which is among relatively few surviving structures from the early car dealerships that sprang up in American cities. “We believe this funky building has architectural value and merit—and should be saved,” Mr. Montgomery said.

Others added this year were the Immaculate Conception Academy campus on Laney-Walker Boulevard,; Hallock Cottage on Hickman Road; and the Lyons-Callaghan House on James Brown Boulevard.

Besides calling attention to vulnerable sites, Historic Augusta can also help property owners with advice on grants, tax incentives and other forms of assistance to protect and restore historic properties, said Paul King, who chairs the organization’s endangered historic properties committee.

The buildings were outlined during a news conference at the Martha Lester School on Broad Street, which was placed on a previous endangered property list. It has since been acquired by Clay Boardman and his company, Augusta Capital.

Here is Historic Augusta Inc.’s 2010 list of the area’s most endangered historic properties:

JACOB PHINIZY HOUSE (former Poteet Funeral Home)

Address: 529 Greene Street

Owner: Privately owned and for sale

History and Significance: Built in 1882, this stately Second Empire style residence was built by Jacob Phinizy (1857-1924), wealthy and influential cotton broker, insurance agent and President of the Georgia Railroad Bank from 1897 until his death in 1924. The house was sold to Henry Grealish and Henry W. Poteet in 1940, having moved their funeral home from next door in the previous year. There are abundant original interior details including the elaborate fireplaces, massive pocket doors, Tiffany chandeliers and tile floors. The original carriage house is located behind the main house and the more modern addition of a 3,600 square foot chapel occupies the lot to the corner of Monument Street. This property is a fine example of the impressive architecture that lined Greene Street in the 19th century, with elegant residences, stately churches and the 1820 Richmond County Courthouse built along the length of the beautiful street with landscaped medians. The Jacob Phinizy House has been vacant for several years and is now for sale. Many of the historic structures along Greene Street have enjoyed investment in recent years, and this property is a prime piece of historic real estate for a certified rehabilitation.

Threat: Vacant and neglected

Potential Uses: Single family home, offices, event center

Preservation Tools: (1) A contributing resource in the Augusta Downtown Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is therefore eligible for all programs of the National Register, including grant funds and tax incentives for certified rehabilitation; (2) located in the Downtown Augusta Local Historic District, which means any alteration to the exterior, including demolition should be approved by the Augusta Historic Preservation Commission.

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION ACADEMY CAMPUS

Address: 1016 Laney-Walker Boulevard

Owner: Catholic Diocese of Savannah

History and Significance: The Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception and its Academy were built and dedicated in 1913 by the African Missionary Fathers of the Catholic Church. Located on the corner of Gwinnett Street (now Laney-Walker Boulevard) and Eleventh Street, the original two buildings of red brick consisted of the church and its parochial school. Taught by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception whose convent and boarding school were a block away on Twelfth Street, the school attracted African American students of all faiths. With two additional buildings added later in the 20th Century, the campus has been a cornerstone in the Laney-Walker neighborhood for nearly a century. The handsome, yet utilitarian buildings are solidly constructed and could easily be used for other purposes. The church was closed in the 1970s at the same time Sacred Heart was also closed by the Diocese. Both churches were consolidated with Saint Patrick’s Parish to form the Church of the Most Holy Trinity on Telfair Street, which was the mother church of Catholic parishes in Augusta. The Diocese decided to move the school to Holy Trinity’s Parish Hall, also on Telfair Street, in the fall of 2009.

Threat: School relocated, vacant, potential for demolition

Potential Uses: School, community center, offices

Preservation Tools: (1) Eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, which if actually listed would make it eligible for all programs of the National Register, including grant funds and tax incentives for certified rehabilitation. (2) As this resource is located in the Laney-Walker neighborhood, it is a potential candidate for funding from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development due to low to moderate income demographics in the neighborhood.

PRIVATE FAMILY CEMETERIES

Locations: Throughout the CSRA

Owners: Various

History and Significance: Historic cemeteries are a significant part of Georgia’s history and are often neglected. Many families set aside a burial ground on their farm or plantation and near their home site. But over the years with changing economics and demographics, Americans have left the farm and consequently the family cemetery. Even if someone in the family takes responsibility for a time, eventually that person dies, and no one is left who is aware or interested in their ancestral graveyard. Within a very short time, cemeteries get overgrown with vegetation, and often become the gathering places of loiterers who are often up to no good. Incredibly, unspeakable vandalism often occurs to the weathered and beautiful stones that mark the graves. With increased development around Augusta and urbanization, the abandonment and destruction of private family cemeteries is the reason for their listing as a class on Historic Augusta’s 2010 endangered properties. These final resting places deserve respect and protection in perpetuity. Historic Augusta has been involved with the ongoing preservation and stabilization of both the Cottage Cemetery, off Marvin Griffin Road, and the Coleman-Leigh-Warren Cemetery, off Washington Road, and works closely with the reorganized family groups dedicated to monument restoration, grounds upkeep, seeking of financial support, and developing restoration plans. We hope to bring attention to this growing problem, and technical expertise that will lead to solutions.

Threat: Neglect, vandalism, unknown locations, area redevelopment

Preservation Tools: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division has excellent information and facts regarding cemetery preservation. Georgia HPD has partnered with the Georgia Department of Economic Development to offer a new, one-time grant program for historic cemeteries, the purpose being to assist local communities in promoting their historic cemeteries through heritage tourism. Cemeteries may be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places if the criteria is met and then the cemeteries would be eligible for all programs of the National Register, including grant funds.

PONTIAC MASTER AUTO SERVICE BUILDING

Address: 1027 Telfair Street

Owner: Privately Owned

History and Significance: The Augusta Downtown Historic District is significant in the area of transportation, including several automotive dealerships and service centers that were built in early to mid 20th century. 1027 Telfair Street was built 1949-50 and is a fitting example of such architectural design. With the rise of the automobile, Augusta’s streets were paved and widened and the previously nominated Fifth Street Bridge was completed, creating a major entry way into downtown from South Carolina. The building type devised by automobile dealers is best represented by the large plate glass windows which allowed customers to view the showroom from the sidewalks and as they drove by. The west end of Telfair had several automotive dealership and service buildings such as the Pontiac Master Auto Service Building which featured the curved glass corner along the street. Telfair Street is a menagerie of significant architectural styles and buildings, including the Old Davidson School which was identified as an endangered property by Historic Augusta. Further to the east are many more landmark buildings including Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, the Federal District Courthouse, the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson, First Presbyterian Church, the Old Medical College Building, the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art along with several historic residences and other important buildings. Threatened by development pressures along Telfair Street, the loss of this building would result in a void of a distinct period of Augusta’s commercial history.

Threat: Vulnerable to development plans in the surrounding blocks

Potential Uses: Auto shop, offices, restaurant, retail

Preservation Tools: (1) A contributing resource in the Augusta Downtown Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is therefore eligible for all programs of the National Register, including grant funds and tax incentives for certified rehabilitation; (2) located in the Downtown Augusta Local Historic District, which means any alteration to the exterior, including demolition should be approved by the Augusta Historic Preservation Commission.

HALLOCK COTTAGE

Address: 1303 Hickman Road

Owner: Privately Owned

History and Significance: Built in 1897 by Elijah Allen Hallock (1871-1900), a civil engineer from Moriches, Long Island, New York, who came to Augusta because he was suffering from tuberculosis. The one-story Queen Anne cottage was located in the Monte Sano addition to the Village of Summerville at the southwest corner of Richmond Avenue and Hickman Road. Hickman was originally called Telfair Street before Summerville was annexed into the City of Augusta in 1912, necessitating the name change to avoid confusion with the downtown street with the same name. The Summerville Historic District is noted for the graceful and stylish mansions that line the streets near Walton Way and Milledge Road, but the Monte Sano section was where stylish, but middle-class residents built their homes after the streetcar line was electrified in 1890. The Hallock Cottage was owned by a succession of local Augustans, including August F. Hilleke who managed Augusta’s gas works; Hollis C. Boardman, manager of the Standard Oil Company in Augusta; Annabel Craig Eve; Marion G. Ridgely; and several others. In recent years it has been rented as apartments, often to undesirable occupants. This house represents pockets of the Summerville Historic District that are not as stable as others, pointing to the importance of owner-occupied homes to the wellbeing of many neighborhoods. The outlying fringes of historic districts may be weaker than the core and are often exposed to adjoining areas not regulated by design guidelines. This may lead to the erosion of the historic integrity of the area, which is why this property is an excellent representative of similar situations.

Threat: Vacant, neglected

Potential Uses: Single family residence

Preservation Tools: (1) A contributing resource in the Summerville Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is therefore eligible for all programs of the National Register, including grant funds and tax incentives for certified rehabilitation; (2) located in the Summerville Local Historic District, which means any alteration to the exterior, including demolition should be approved by the Augusta Historic Preservation Commission.

LYONS-CALLAGHAN HOUSE

Address: 808-804 James Brown Boulevard

Owner: Privately Owned

History and Significance: 802-804 James Brown Boulevard (formerly Ninth Street and even earlier called Campbell Street) is a modest two-story house that sits prominently on the southeast corner of Walton Way and James Brown Boulevard. Built circa 1870 by Irish immigrants William and Mary Lyons, it was income producing property almost from the beginning. After William’s death in 1876, Mary Lyons lived next door on what was originally called Gardiner Street, later Calhoun, and now is part of Walton Way. She rented the house for use as a grocery store and a saloon, as did the subsequent owner, William Callaghan, another Irish immigrant who lived a block further south on Ninth Street. It eventually became a beauty salon catering to African-Americans and a boarding house. This is one of the rare remaining houses built in the area known in the mid-19th century as “Dublin” because it was settled largely by Irish immigrants, many of whom worked for the railroad. The Laney-Walker Historic District is significant for both architecture and history, notably the development as a self-contained African-American community in the 20th century. The construction of the new judicial center directly across the street from this house and the subsequent commercial investment in the surrounding area threatens either demolition or rehabilitation that may not be preservation-sensitive to the integrity and character of the building. Historic Augusta previously listed the 500 block of Ninth Street, which includes the Red Star Café, on its endangered properties list. There has been considerable attention directed at redeveloping the Ninth Street corridor, with a great number of historic structures already lost, including the historic Bethel A.M.E. Church. Sensitive rehab of this house would save a significant 150-year-old historic resource in the area that represents much of the ethnic diversity that makes Augusta’s history and architecture so dynamic.

Threat: Vacant, neglect, strong development pressure

Potential Uses: Professional offices, restaurant

Preservation Tools: (1) A contributing resource in the Laney-Walker Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is therefore eligible for all programs of the National Register, including grant funds and tax incentives for certified rehabilitation. (2) As this resource is located in the Laney-Walker neighborhood, it is a potential candidate for funding from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development available for low to moderate income neighborhoods.

Comments (17) Add comment
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hockeymann
226
Points
hockeymann 10/06/09 - 10:03 am
0
0
Why would anyone find much of

Why would anyone find much of significance to saving the old
Pontiac Master Auto Building(s)?? Best thing you could do is try to get some other type business going there, than to make a
historic site out of a business that moved to better surroundings
in the western side of town..

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 10/06/09 - 12:05 pm
0
0
OMG Tiffany chandeliers!???

OMG Tiffany chandeliers!??? what are they asking for it??

LouLou
6
Points
LouLou 10/06/09 - 01:02 pm
0
0
That's the way to go, tear

That's the way to go, tear down all old/historical buildings, destroy them and wonder why can't anything be accomplished to make Augusta more enticing!!!!!!! Then wonder why everyone's at odds with anything favorable.

corgimom
36696
Points
corgimom 10/06/09 - 01:03 pm
0
0
Not too many people want to

Not too many people want to live in a former mortuary. You could take all your guests on a tour and show them where the bodies were prepared. How appealing.

gailkaitschuck
18
Points
gailkaitschuck 10/06/09 - 03:03 pm
0
0
Hallock Cottage is listed as

Hallock Cottage is listed as "contract pending". I've been through this house when it was still listed as being for sale. One could see the beauty it had once been although it would be quite a challenge to bring it back.

Gail

amandajohnson08
0
Points
amandajohnson08 10/06/09 - 03:11 pm
0
0
Ok so the most common threat

Ok so the most common threat to these sites is vandalism; so why tell everybody whats inside?!?

zigzag
0
Points
zigzag 10/06/09 - 03:12 pm
0
0
Starting a business in most

Starting a business in most of those neighborhoods would be foolhardy (e.g., Telfair St, Laney Walker, etc). Plus, the cost to upgrade those buildings to fire code, structural integrity, insulation, plumbing, etc. and it's cheaper to build a new building. I wish it could happen but empty lots are way cheaper and plentiful!

mike71345
75
Points
mike71345 10/06/09 - 04:12 pm
0
0
Ask them about grants and

Ask them about grants and incentives. There are none available to residential homeowners. None. Preservation grants and incentives are only available for income-producing properties.

mike71345
75
Points
mike71345 10/06/09 - 04:18 pm
0
0
Another endangered property

Another endangered property is the Widows' Home on lower Greene. Historic Augusta owns a facade easement on that property. The easement was supposed to ensure its proper upkeep since it was rehabilitated a couple years ago. Now it's falling back into disrepair. It's not your fault, Historic Augusta, it sure is hard to maintain a property in an area the city maintains as a slum.

zigzag
0
Points
zigzag 10/06/09 - 04:58 pm
0
0
It would be better if Augusta

It would be better if Augusta allowed developers to tear down these junk buildings around downtown and rebuild with a facade that "looks old." Okay, save a couple, but most of these places are no different that the thousands around the country. No one gets in their car one day and says, "Gee - let's go to Augusta and see some really old buildings! And while we're there we'll spend the night and eat out and . . Oh, we can't, I forgot, it isn't safe to walk around past dark."

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 10/06/09 - 05:51 pm
0
0
I wonder which one of these

I wonder which one of these buildings will mysteriously catch on fire like the old mill did last year?

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/06/09 - 07:39 pm
0
0
A better story would have

A better story would have been what is on the list, how long on the list and potential for being renovated. It is fine to say something is precious, but if it is too expensive to restore, then it is too expensive to restore. Oh but I forgot, the taxpayers have deep pockets and nothing is too good for taxpayers and nothing is too expensive either.

corgimom
36696
Points
corgimom 10/06/09 - 10:28 pm
0
0
Vandalism is the major

Vandalism is the major problem because the crackheads, drunks, and homeless people break into them. They wouldn't care if it was an empty shell.

Tigger
23
Points
Tigger 10/07/09 - 05:55 am
0
0
Willie Mays should buy the

Willie Mays should buy the old funeral Home .
He has beautiful limosines, but his building is a dump.

lsnorth
0
Points
lsnorth 10/07/09 - 06:20 am
0
0
What about the neatest little

What about the neatest little church downtown. The Greene Street Presbyterian Church has significant ties with early christian development in Augusta.It is also a memorial monument to those 15 residents who labored for the church and its purpose.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 10/07/09 - 06:38 am
0
0
Original pocket doors and

Original pocket doors and tiffany lighting..yeah I'll take my chances with the "ghosts".......

robbie1
0
Points
robbie1 10/10/09 - 05:41 pm
0
0
When I got stationed at Ft

When I got stationed at Ft Gordon, my wife and I almost bought a house near 8th and Green (I believe). We wanted to renovate it and settle in Augusta. We decided not to because of the way the Army moves us around, and didn't want to take a chance that some knucklehead would destroy our hard work while we were away. The one we were looking at had been set on fire by some folks that broke into it. Maybe someday when I get back.

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