Tag Archives: historic pres

in search of salvation

Carswell Grove Baptist Church

In the recent Places in Peril nominations here at the Trust, there were 4 rural churches in need of salvation. Ironic? well, the stories were similar and all too familiar. Ward’s Chapel held it’s last service in 1991 after a dwindling congregation, most of whom have moved away, passed on, or become Jehovah’s witnesses. In Adairsville, the 1908 First Christian Church building “serves as an anchor” for the historic properties in that part of town but the congregation moved to a new sanctuary in 2002 only using this building for special occasions. At least they still use it and even have a church committee set up to monitor the building’s needs and repairs. Over in Jenkins County, a rural congregation abandoned their 1919 building when a new sanctuary was built in 2008 despite having received and used a Georgia Heritage Grant 10 years earlier significantly repair the roof and roof structures. Even though they salvaged the pews, and someone took the windows, there is still a hope of restoring the building itself. Only in Locust Grove was a nomination not abandoned. Georgia’s first Catholic church languishes from lack of funds but still holds a monthly service for the small congregation.

PIP churches 2014b

The big question though is what to do with these churches once they have been rehabilitated? Many have been abandoned as worship spaces, and are no longer needed as such, so they must be put to a new use. Some nominators expressed a hope to attract tourism to the area, or use as an event space, noble ideas, but when you’re in backwoods Georgia it’s hard to call them practical. We need new uses, people with an imagination, and still we’re not going to be able to save them all.

Like I said, it’s not a new phenomenon, just an ever growing one. flickr and facebook groups abound dedicated to rural and abandoned places of worship. There is something beautiful and sad in any abandoned building but churches, their symbolism and purity, the rites they’ve witnessed and represent, are particularly poignant in their dereliction. Weighty with meaning, with hope and heartbreak and love, they can grip our hearts as tightly as the vines that now scale their walls.

But enough poetry. What can we do with these buildings? I mean really??

Several old churches in the country and towns (like Athens) have been turned into residences. In Athens, I remember a former Episcopal church whose pews are cleared out for yoga, tai chi and community events. Here in Atlanta, churches rent their sanctuaries to bands for practice space and even, yes, now we’re talking, aerial dance and trapeze. D.A.I.R. Projects took over the historic Grant Park Methodist Church in 2007/08 it was perfect for their high-flying needs!

at DAIR, Atlanta

Oh shoot, I research while i write and it looks like my old friends at Mental Floss have beat me to the list of awesome—“11 New Uses for Old Churches”. Although sadly several of the best are not in the US including the skate park in England and the AMAZING library in the Netherlands. Hey now, could a Roller Derby league take over an abandoned church for the right price??

Sparta is where it’s at

Yesterday’s trip to Sparta was beyond exciting. I’ve been itching to get back there ever since J and I had to speed through it last September. Sparta, a county seat made rich long ago by cotton and left high and dry by the various economic forces of changed farming, deep racial divides, undervalued education systems, and bad politics, is an interesting amalgamation of everything that is dear to me:

– it reminds me profoundly of Macon, Miss.
– so I feel I understand it, but only as much as I can claim to understand Macon
– it is rich, RICH in historic building stock, many of which are in decent condition and relatively unchanged.
– FARMING!! not the cotton, corn and soybeans kind—in fact, I know very little of Hancock County’s farming economy and how it compares to Noxubee—but the GOOD FOOD movement is RIGHT THERE!

One citizen of Sparta in particular is responsible for much of this preservation-good food pairing. I don’t know a lot about Mr. C, he made his money in the furniture business, moved to Sparta some time ago where he and his wife restored a grand old home with magnolia trees in front and lots of land in back. Perhaps it was she who started the garden, a picture perfect acre or two, straight of the how-to-create-a-garden book. A few years back, an appropriate “young land-less farming couple” moved into the house next door to take over the management and expansion of the garden and begin selling to outside markets. I once understood that this garden supplied the Four Seasons in Atlanta and now I know they supply other good-local-food-minded restaurants within a 2 hour radius which includes Augusta and Athens.


Years ago Mr. C developed an alliance with us at the Georgia Trust and today is a key ally of the Trust in our work in Sparta. Apparently he was also making friends with Georgia Organics as I later learned he is revered equally among my farm-foodie friends. Currently he instigates change in his community by investing in projects that further the pursuit of these 2 interests. He and his wife are living the dream by living what they believe in.

For the Trust, the C’s recently purchased a house at auction which they then sold to us at a bargain price for our Revolving Fund. About a year ago though, the Trust worked with Mr. C to purchase a neighboring abandoned factory and the old train depot, which has become a new food venture. JT, a farming friend who used to be president of Georgia Organics, moved to Sparta this past summer to partner with Mr. C in the development of a mushroom growing operation which is off to a good start. The first Sparta Farmer’s Mkt, organized in part at least by JT is starting up in March involving other farmers in the area whose products are not already being sold to the Four Seasons, Five and Ten or such. In my mind, it’s the first big step in the good-food revolution of a small town. It’s exciting!

Yes, you guessed it, I want to live there and truly, if I didn’t already have Macon, Sparta would be mine. I kind of wish they were right next door to each other, it’s a shame there are so many small towns to choose from, and that we can each only choose one.

Moore-Lewis House mushroom growing 2

reclaimed wood

historic = reclaimed wood. yes, i love it, until I hear crap ideas like I did today. but don’t panic, they’re just students—they have time to learn better.

I’m not naming names, but this morning (even before my coffee and i had to drive to work, woe is me) K and I went to interior design class presentations of a project where each student had to reimagine the space of Peachtree Station as a photographer’s studio/gallery/community space. Cool project, fun to imagine other uses for a building that will very soon need to find some. But these kiddos, in their zeal to blend historic integrity, preservation, and modern interior design sensibilities all wanted to use reclaimed wood as a material, and not just any wood: they wanted to TURN THE BENCHES INTO RECLAIMED WOOD SURFACES. wtf?? go get your own already reclaimed wood and leave the perfectly good beautiful (already-been-claimed-wood) benches alone!

by Halston Pitman

Granted, this was just a class project, and I do suspect they were really just trying for some cool creative points somewhere in their project, but part of the point WAS to understand the principles of Historic Preservation and, that aside, part of their schooling (as interior designers or otherwise) should be to appreciate what is THERE, and no one in their right minds should tear apart exquisite train station benches (especially if you have ever sat in them, so comfortable!) for the purpose of sanding down and using the wood as a floor or wall surface. We have a very nice couch at our house, it’d be like me saying, hey i love this fabric, let’s tear up the couch and make curtains.

Reaching, they were really reaching for creative points, and I hope they didn’t really think that was a good idea and I hope nobody else does either.

Istanbul progress

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a plan. Istanbul is going to be the financial capital of the world. It could a blip in the translation, but my version says “THE financial capital,” forget New York, London, Hong Kong, think: Istanbul. But this capitalism won’t come cheap for Turks. Their capital city is taking a hit of uber-modernization as it (unrelated to the PM’s worldly aspirations) grows it’s way to being a megalopolis and the current PM and money hungry developers are no help. In fact, it seems that the historic preservation regulations that have been in place for decades are no help either!

Haribo Towers I

This was brought to my attention this morning by a story on npr which i subsequently looked up and learned about a very interesting documentary featuring Istanbul called Ecumenopolis (I’ll save that discussion for another day).

Meanwhile, I am in the middle of reading a book for class titled Preserving the World’s Great Cities in which Anthony Tung says of Istanbul that already “the skyline that was once made up of domes and minarets of mosques is now dominated by looming and massive modern hotels.”

Similar to the reconfiguring of cities that went on in Paris in the mid-1800s, and the general flattening of blocks and blocks of existing buildings for the sake of a few 1960s high rises and a multitude of parking spaces, Istanbul is reconfiguring herself to fit the deep pockets of her middle and upperclass guides. Maximization of commercial space/income-producing properties is a priority. Developers are seizing greenspace and the PM is scheming to direct traffic into the last of the metropolis’ forests while locals are suspicious he plans to convert an architectural gem of a public train station into a shopping mall. Meanwhile new developments and gated communities spring up for the wealthy and the poor are crammed into high rise projects to maximize land value and revenue.

One particularly creative twist on the part of developers involves a city park mentioned in the npr story. There has been a park here since the 1940s when an Ottoman army barracks was abandoned and demolished. After years of coveting this prime real estate, someone finally got the brilliant idea to use Turkey’s law of preserving historic buildings to develop it and so, says the director of the Ecumenopolis film, “in order to protect this already-demolished building, they’re rebuilding it… They’re saying their preserving” something that is already gone, making a reconstruction which will, actually, serve as a shopping mall. Oy vey.

What will happen when these capitalist hogs wake up though and find there are too many malls in the historic shells of once-useful buildings, too many to meet the small demand of the few who can eek their way into a city by car or bus on the overpacked roads where not a green thing is in sight. what then?

inside Haydarpasa Station: I can see why developers want it but how about retaining your beautiful historic resources as they were built to be used?

Atlanta’s most historic Coca-Cola landmark

So, I know you want to know about the Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company building on the corner of Edgewood and Courtland in downtown Atlanta. It’s a beautiful gem of a Victorian building and doesn’t look a thing like it could have seen anything akin to manufacturing. It looks like a little Victorian house, maybe with a saloon on the bottom floor…

125 Edgewood 1893-2011

In 1886 Joel Hurt and Samuel Inman formed the East Atlanta Land Company, that’s right, Inman Park, Druid Hills, the Hurt Building, and … Edgewood Avenue. Edgewood didn’t even exist until 1888, when Hurt, wanting a direct line to run a streetcar to his upcoming subdivision, made it happen (by coercing the legislature, buying up land along the route via the East Atl Land Co, and leaning on the city to condemn properties he was unable to purchase). 125 Edgewood at the future corner of Courtland and Edgewood appears to be one of the properties he bought, as well as most of the Edgewood frontage on that block and in 1891 the Victorian commericial/residential building was built. The historic picture below is from 1893, the streets were still dirt, but a streetcar line was already operating to Inman Park.

Meanwhile, another shrewd Atlanta businessman (and later Inman Park resident), Asa Candler, was building his own monopoly. After a good bit of swindling on Candler’s part, The Coca-Cola Company was officially formed and previous records were destroyed to obscure any dubious origins (wiki). In 1894 Joseph Biedenharn of Vicksburg, Mississippi, began bottling Coca-Cola to sell the soda to country customers “right off back of the turnip truck” (not sure if that was talking about the customers or the selling), Candler acknowledged the gratuitous cases sent him with a mere “that is fine”–he was not interested in bottling his product. On July 1, 1899, Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead of Chattanooga secured a contract to bottle Coca-Cola in the U.S. (excepting Mississippi and New England which had their bottling operations and Texas for the time being). They began in Chattanooga then Whitehead headed to Atlanta where he started the Dixie Bottling Company just one block down from Candler’s Coca-Cola Company headquarters at 179 Edgewood. That’s right, it was 1901 and Whitehead and Lupton opened the bottling operation in this cute little Victorian commericial/residential building, one of many businesses to grace this building with their presence over the 70 years or so of it’s operational existence. And it didn’t last long, not even long enough to appear in the City Directory before they moved to expand operations. But a picture below shows a sketch of the early bottling operations and how it may have appeared in this special little building.

So why is it a National Landmark? it wasn’t actually the site of the Coca-Cola Company, it wasn’t even where the drink was first bottled (certainly an significant step in its impact on the world), it wasn’t even the first official bottling operation condoned by Candler himself, but it was the site of the FIRST OFFICIAL BOTTLING OPERATION IN GEORGIA. and that’s important.

After the Dixie Bottling Company moved out, 125 Edgewood was home again to a rotation of diverse enterprises: John Payton’s Beer Saloon around 1911, Joseph Horowitz Ladies clothing, and, for a couple decades, Virgil Shepard’s window display shop. Whereas this area had been largely racially mixed (black, white, Jewish), by the 1920s it seems that things were more segregated and the block was mostly comprised of black-owned businesses evident by their advertisements appearing in the Atlanta Daily World, the offices of which were just around the corner on Auburn.

how insulation works

I have recently rediscovered the “Preservation in Mississippi” blog and am trying to read it when i get a chance. This morning I delving into the concrete block construction fad in Vicksburg (this relates to studying for my test tomorrow i swear) and was curious as to why they claimed to provide excellent insulation. Some readers were curious too and one guy had an answer:

“The blocks used for the cap of the low wall show some playfulness with the block machine. The manufacture used a form for the short side of the block that was half the size of the block they were making. This gave it a half rockface, half smooth finish to the block.

“[The concrete block construction] claims are 100% valid. The continuous dead air space they refer to in the article is a pretty good insulator since dead air does not transfer temperatures. With modern insulation like fiberglass bats or spray foam (gasp, boo, hiss) its not the product insulating the structure but the dead air space the insulating material tries to create. Like Malvaney said air infiltrating the space will negate the value of a cavity.

“Well maintained this method of construction is fairly efficient. Although temperature transfer through walls is pretty low on the list of concerns. Walls are fourth on the list behind roof, floor, & openings(doors and windows).”

Dead air space provides insulation?! This was something I didn’t know but it makes sense of course. The “loft” of your sleeping bag or comforter keeps you warm (and when you loose that loft cause you washed it, you’re not warm anymore). I sought to verify this with a trip to howstuffworks and learned that the purpose of insulation is to retard the transfer of heat and since air is poor conductor of heat it is probably the most basic, effective, and accessible form of insulator. This would also explain [to me] why all these new thermal fabrics and such are so full of “technology” because they have to get around the most basic rules of insulation.

not exactly related, but this is a picture of the very uninsulated (and drafty) attic of Sunshine. You can imagine how all that hot hot air in the summer transfers DOWN into the house!

valley view

You would think i’d’ve had a chance to write about Valley View by now but no such space of time has presented itself, so for now i will just post this, cause i know you want to know what they hell i am doing in school, and especially on those saturdays i’ve spent up in Cartersville and come back glowing with excitement from. It’s partly the crisp cool autumn air of north Georgia, but also the discovery of this house inspection, in this case, going around the exterior with H, peering in cracks while taking [very important] measurements of exterior elements. You can tell it makes me happy right?

inspecting valley view, by Ed