Whatever fate is decided for the old Evans teacher’s cottage, it appears local officials only have about six months to make it happen.
That timeline to save one of the last architectural vestiges of the old Evans community came to light Monday, at the meeting of the Columbia County Historical Society, said society member Rob Nordan.
Nordan said State Sen. Bill Jackson disclosed the deadline after speaking with the family of property owner, Rachel Roberston, whose business, Strictly Country, closed in 2012 after operating in the historic building for 25 years.
The white clapboard building at the corner of North Belair and Washington roads is under contract for sale, although the owner will not yet say what it will be used for, only that the building must be removed.
Nordan said the Historical Society supports moving the building to a new location, if that will save it.
He said no one knows, yet, how difficult that will be. A plan has to be put together to find a new location and move it, which could prove to be very expensive.
He said the building could be used as a visitor’s center, a musuem or a repository for historic documents or artifacts. Whatever the purpose, he said it should be for public use.
Nordan said Jackson told members at the meeting there would have to be a “massive volunteer effort” to accomplish such a task. The county’s building and construction community will have to come forward to offer services to disassemble and relocate the structure. Money will have to be raised and land will need to be acquired, Nordan said.
County Administrator Scott Johnson, who also attended Monday’s meeting, said the first order of business should be determining what the old building will be used for before creating a plan to move it.
“I don’t think it is wise to move an historic building and plop it on a piece of land, not knowing how it will be used,” Johnson said. He said he has asked county staff to look into estimates on the cost of such a move, just to see what they are facing.
“We want to know what we are talking about, whether it’s $10,000 or $200,000, we just don’t know,” he said. Until more information is gathered and a plan is offered, Johnson said it would be difficult for the county to commit any resources to the project.
“What we’ve done so far is kind of exploring our options,” he said. “I don’t know if I have a place to put it or if we have a need for it at this time.”
Jackson said that any county involvement would be helpful and he is happy that officials are at least exploring the matter.
Jackson said that he would support the formation of a special committee to examine the issues, develop a plan and make recommendations to the government on what could be done with the historic property.
“I was encouraged by the meeting and I feel like we have a better chance of doing it,” he said. “It’s a big project.”