The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation has released its 2021 list of 10 Places in Peril in the state.
Sites on the list include: Ashby Street Theatre in Atlanta (Fulton County); Atlanta Eagle and Kodak Buildings in Atlanta (Fulton County); Blackshear City Jail in Blackshear (Pierce County); Cherry Grove Schoolhouse in Washington (Wilkes County); Cohutta African American Civic District in Cohutta (Whitfield County); Downtown Toomsboro (Wilkinson County); Kiah House Museum in Savannah (Chatham County); Old Monticello United Methodist Church in Monticello (Jasper County); Terrell County Courthouse in Dawson; and Vineville Avenue Corridor in Macon (Bibb County).
“This is the Trust’s 16th annual Places in Peril list,” said Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Trust. “We hope the list will continue to bring preservation solutions to Georgia’s imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites.”
Places in Peril is designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.
Through Places in Peril, the Trust will encourage owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ proven preservation tools, financial resources and partnerships in order to reuse, reinvest and revitalize historic properties that are in peril.
Sites on previous years’ lists include: Fountain Hall (Atlanta), the most prominent building on the original campus of Atlanta University, was awarded more than $1 million in grants for rehabilitation; Historic Griffin City Hall (Spalding County) was fully rehabilitated and received top honors at the Georgia Trust Preservation Awards in 2020; the Sandersville School (Washington County) received grants from the Watson-Brown Junior Board and the Fox Theatre Institute to help fund its rehabilitation; the Fairview School (Cave Spring), one of the last remaining school buildings constructed for African American children, was fully rehabilitated and received a Preservation Award from the Georgia Trust; and the Central State Hospital Depot (Milledgeville) and Lexington Beth-Salem Church (Lexington) were recent recipients of the Trust’s Callahan Incentive Grant, which will go towards both buildings’ rehabilitation.
Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation works for the preservation and revitalization of Georgia's diverse historic resources and advocates their appreciation, protection and use. As one of the country's leading statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations, the Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund and raises awareness of other endangered historic resources through an annual listing of Georgia's "Places in Peril." The Trust offers a variety of educational programs for adults and children, provides technical assistance to property owners and historic communities, advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts, and manages two house museums in Atlanta (Rhodes Hall) and Macon (Hay House).
Incorporated in 1904, the town of Toomsboro primarily grew as a whistle stop town between Macon and Savannah along the Central Georgia Railroad. After the Civil War, the town developed an active downtown district which grew through its incorporation and remained active through the mid-20th century, even with a population that remained around 700. Many of the original downtown structures still exist today.
Despite its charm, many of the downtown buildings are showing deterioration. Many of the properties are held by a single owner who has not shown a willingness to invest in significant rehabilitation efforts but has shown a willingness to market the town as available for purchase. The mayor and city council wish to promote the town but also balance its history with its future by attracting preservation minded buyers sympathetic to the historic structures.