The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation has published its 10 “Places at Risk” list, highlighting the most “at risk” sites in our state.
ATLANTA — The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation released its list of 10 “Places at Risk” Wednesday morning. It highlights various historical sites in the state that need to be preserved.
This marks the 18th year the group has released this list to try and keep the story alive.
Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation President and CEO Mark McDonald spoke about why they are working so hard to preserve these buildings.
“It’s a list of sites that were nominated by the public, but reviewed by our staff and committee, and then approved by our Board of Trustees,” he explained. “We provide the professional guidance and advice, as well as some funding skills, to try and provide some financial resources for these projects.”
Each year, the list highlights Georgia’s 10 most endangered and historic buildings that are “in need of salvation,” as McDonald puts it. Some are threatened with demolition, others lack maintenance.
“It’s important for these communities to maintain a sense of their past because it gives them pride and a better understanding of their identity. Buildings can tell a story much deeper than just reading about it in a book,” he added.
11Alive photojournalist Chris Cole and 11Alive reporter Paola Suro were allowed to visit some of these pages on the day the list was published.
Today the area where the McConnell-Chadwick house is located is considered Fulton County, but it was Cherokee County when it was built in the 1830s.
The house looks deserted, parts of it boarded up, as dozens of cars speed by on Arnold Mill Road. However, by the late 1830s it was owned by Brigadier General and State Senator Eli McConnell. It was one of the first buildings constructed in what was then Cherokee County.
“The Indians were forcibly evicted from this area, Cherokees were brought to Oklahoma. It was a very tragic story: Trail of Tears, they say. So this, this building was only made possible by this horrible chapter in our history,” McDonald said. “It’s really important to preserve this, just to show the opportunism of the white settlers to take land that belonged to Native Americans for centuries.”
Photojournalist Cole made his way first to 223 Auburn Avenue. Located in the heart of the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, this building is now boarded up, with advertising on the former doors. But in the early 20th century, the building was the first black-owned chartered bank in the state of Georgia.
“It’s an important African American story. Now it’s in a really bad state,” McDonald said. “It had a tornado and a fire.”
Then he drove to a 151-year-old courthouse. The Old Campbell Courthouse in Fairburn was built in 1871 and served as a courthouse until 1932, shortly after what was considered Campbell County was annexed to Fulton.
“This one taught me something,” McDonald said. “We used to have a county in Georgia called Campbell County, but it went bankrupt and was incorporated into Fulton County. The courthouse is still there and it was empty and we had a fire there. Luckily the Fairburn Fire Brigade were quick to spot and put it out, but there was some damage sustained.”
Now, McDonald and his team are working with the city and area neighbors to try to raise money and bring back the courthouse.
They are attempting to keep this story alive with community help and a budget of nearly $2 million, some of which will go to their Atlanta activities and some to the preservation of the Hay House in Macon, “Georgia’s grandest mansion.” in the Italian style”. “
The fundraising efforts and grants do not go unnoticed. McDonald said just last year that they have been able to help many of these historic archaeological sites thrive.
“The Chattahoochee Brick Company has been on our list since last year and has now been purchased by the City of Atlanta to create a city park and memorial to put them out of harm’s way. So that was a big save,” he explains. “Over in Washington, Georgia, a beautiful one-room schoolhouse for African Americans was built in the 1800s and it was in really bad shape, but it has now been fully renovated thanks to a grant we were able to give them and tireless efforts community and volunteers to restore this really cute schoolhouse.”
Here is a complete list of “Places in Danger”.
- 229 Auburn Avenue in Atlanta (Fulton County)
- Beulah Grove Lodge and School in Douglasville, Douglas County
- Ruins of Lee’s Mill on the Flint River in Forest Park (Clayton County)
- McConnell-Chadwick Home in Milton, Fulton County
- Old Campbell County Courthouse in Fairburn, Fulton County
Other locations in the state:
- Chickamauga Masonic Lodge No. 221 in Chickamauga (Walker County)
- Dasher High School in Valdosta, Lowdes County
- Dudley Motel, Cafe and Gas Station in Dublin (Laurens County)
- Wilkes County Training School in Washington (Wilkes County)
- Yates House in Ringgold (Catoosa County)
Below is information from the Georgia Trust of Historic Preservation on each site. All the details can be found on their website.
229 Auburn Avenue (Atlanta, Fulton County)
229 Auburn Avenue was a location in the 20th century that was home to several African American businesses. It was once a branch of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company. In 2008, a tornado damaged buildings in the district, including one adjacent to 229 Auburn Avenue. The building is still standing, but has been vacant for years. It was identified as the most vulnerable building in the Sweet Auburn District in a National Park Service study. Read more about it here.
Beulah Grove Lodge and School Douglasville (Douglasville, Douglas County)
Beulah Grove Lodge and School is an important piece of history in Jim Crow South, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation said. Some African American communities used the buildings for various purposes as they reflected on their need for independence and self-reliance. The lodge has deteriorated and rehab efforts have been complicated by the pandemic. More information is available here.
Masonic Lodge Chickamauga #221 (Chickamauga, Walker County)
Chickamauga Lodge No. 221, Prince Hall Affiliate of the Free and Accepted Masons, was organized in 1916 by former enslaved and freed first generation African Americans. However, the current facility was completed in 1924 after the previous one burned down. Some of the much needed buildings include a new roof and structural assessment. Read more information here.
Dasher High School (Valdosta, Lowndes County)
The former Dasher High School was built in 1928 as Valdosta’s third public high school for African American students. It was named in honor of Mayor Robert Dasher. It is the only surviving school building from this period. Dasher High School continues to serve as a community center for the citizens of Valdosta, but portions of the building are unsafe to the public. Read more about Dasher High here.
Dudley Motel, Cafe and Gas Station (Dublin, Laurens County)
Herbert “Hub” Dudley, a prominent black business owner, opened the Dudley Motel in 1958. The motel housed black travelers during the civil rights era. He also owned the nearby Retreat Cafe and Service Station, as well as several other shops catering to African American customers in Dublin. The motel closed in the 1980s and sits vacant. A conservation plan is required for the refurbishment of the hotel. Read more about it here.
Ruins of Lee’s Mill on the Flint River (Forest Park, Clayton County)
The earliest parts of Lee’s Mill may be pre-war. For decades, with the growth of the nearby Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the area near the plant was designated for heavy industry development. The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation said the Flint River is subject to intense flooding due to runoff from the hard surfaces of the upstream airport and parking lots. Stabilization efforts are needed. Read more here.
McConnell-Chadwick House (Milton, Fulton County)
McConnell-Chadwick House was developed in the late 1830’s as the home of Brigadier General and State Senator Eli McConnell. McConnell, also an enslaver, was empowered to arbitrate disputes between Native Americans and white settlers. He also helped found the town of Hickory Flat and lobbied for the formation of Milton County, now part of Fulton County. The home is off the busy Highway 140. It has been plagued by flooding and vandalism. Read more here.
Old Campbell County Courthouse (Fairburn, Fulton County)
The Old Campbell County Courthouse was built in 1871 and served as a courthouse until 1932 when the area was incorporated into Fulton County. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and was last used by the local history society until its move in 2020 and by the local history society until its move in 2020. The building caught fire in August 2022. The community is hoping to rehabilitate the facility. Read more here.
Wilkes County Training School (Washington, Wilkes County)
Formerly the Wilkes County Training School, the Equalization School was established in 1956, uniting about 40 rural African-American schools in Wilkes County. During integration in 1970, the previously separate white high school on this campus was merged and grades 9 through 12 were renamed Washington Wilkes Comprehensive High School. It has been empty since 2011. The building is derelict. Read more here.
Yates House (Ringgold, Catoosa County)
This home near Yates Springs is one of the few remaining antebellum homes in Catoosa County. Presley Yates, who received the land in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery, served as a delegate to the Georgia Secession Convention in 1861 and voted against secession—although he was an enslaver. The house has been vandalized several times and needs improved security. Read more here.
Read more about the individual locations here.