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Historic Augusta Names Endangered Properties

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While they aren’t in danger of the wrecking ball, two prominent, historic buildings were added to Historic Augusta’s Endangered Properties List.

The Old Medical College of Georgia and the Academy of Richmond County building are Telfair Street neighbors and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but they could use new purpose, said Erick Montgomery, Historic Augusta’s executive director at a press conference Wednesday at the Old Medical College.

“It’s being used, but it needs new focus,” Montgomery said of the Old Medical College, a structure built in 1835.

Not only was the space home to the Medical College of Georgia at one time, it served as a Civil War hospital, a school building for Richmond Academy, a USO during World War II, a social hall for the Sand Hills Garden Club and the Augusta Council of Garden Clubs.

The neighboring Academy of Richmond County built around 1802 and used for the academy, which was founded in 1783 and is considered the oldest school in Georgia. It’s served as the city’s library and museum over its lifetime.

The Academy of Richmond County was placed on Historic Augusta’s Endangered Properties List. Staff photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

Both buildings are owned by the Trustees of the Academy of Richmond County.

But they need a consistent revenue stream to combat the problems faced by all aging buildings.

Also on the list is a home dubbed Cloister Garth by the family who built it.

Located at 933 Milledge Road, the home was built in 1893 by Landon Thomas and his wife, Minnie. The majestic structure welcomed esteemed guests including President William Howard Taft and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Rucker Lamar.

It’s currently owned by Church of the Good Shepherd.

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Montgomery said the home needs an owner with the means to restore it. Some people have asked about the possibility of using it as an event space, but zoning would be an issue. It’s zoned residential, and he sees rezoning as a major obstacle.

The final property listed is the Morris Street Cemetery also known as the Monte Sano Cemetery at 1901 Wrightsboro Road

The cemetery is overgrown and has been vandalized over the years. The property has no caretaker, he said. No owner is known, and tax records list it as exempt with a Municipal Building address.

It’s the final resting place of many prominent Augusta families – Walton, Dugas, Musgrove.

Not only did Montgomery list the current properties, but he updated the progress of the program since 2007 when the first list was announced.

Of the 88 properties listed, 28 have been saved including the former Jewish synagogue and court of the ordinary building that was added to the 2014 list. The site at 525 Telfair St. is home to the Augusta Jewish Museum, which is still being developed but hosting regular programming.

The Augusta Jewish Museum and its education center saved not one but two historic buildings in downtown Augusta. Staff photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

Kahr’s Grocery at 401 Greene St. was listed in 2011 and is being rehabbed by Heard Robertson into apartments. Also, the home of the Rev. C.T. Walker has been saved and some structural work has been done such as adding a new roof.

Progress has been made on 14 buildings; 15 have seen no change; six have deteriorated even more; and 15 have been lost.

The goal of the list is to make people aware of the problem and engage people in finding a way to save, restore and reuse these spaces, Montgomery said.

To learn more, visit Historic Augusta’s website, historicaugusta.org.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the Features Editor for The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected]

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