It might be too late to save the building, but a local group is still hoping to preserve the memory of the old Evans Teachers’ Cottage.
The historic structure was demolished last weekend to make way for a chicken chain restaurant backed by former NFL and University of Florida football star Tim Tebow.
On Thursday, PDQ – standing for People Dedicated to Quality – purchased the corner lot on Washington and North Belair roads for an undisclosed amount and plans to build a 4,300-square-foot restaurant, said Jeff Kamis, PDQ’s chief marketing and public relations officer. It is expected to be open by early August.
The property once housed a teachers’ dormitory, which was later turned into Strictly Country. The gift shop closed in 2012 after 25 years.
A committee had been working since last year to save the cottage but was unable to raise enough money to move the structure to a new location. The building dates back to the 1920s.
Rob Nordan, a member of the committee which had formed to save the building, said they are working with PDQ to “commemorate the history of Evans and its historical legacy.”
To accomplish this, the group is seeking help from the public to contribute photos to a historic archive, some of which could be incorprated into the decor of the new restaurant, Nordan said.
Nordan said the group wants to “establish a digital photo archive of life in Evans, Georgia from the beginning of Evans through the 1960s.”
They are looking for old photos of: the old Evans Normal School (before the fire of the old school); extra-curricular school activities at Evans school pre-1960; farm life in Evans before 1940; teachers’ cottage (construction and early days, pre-1930); teachers residing at the cottage; and other examples of pre-1960s buildings, homes and public life of the the Evans community.
To assist in the effort, The Columbia County News-Times is helping in the photo collection effort. Residents can bring photos to the News-Times office, 4272 Washington Road, Evans, where they will be scanned to create a digital archive. After scanning the original photos, they will be returned to the owners.
PDQ pledged money to save the building and promises to preserve some part of the property’s historic value, possibly by adding the building’s stones into its design plans, Kamis said.
“We definitely want to work with them on coming up with a way to commemorate that history,” he said. “We know it means so much to so many people in that area.”
H2 Restaurant Partners LLC, an investment group that includes Tebow and former NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde, has joined with PDQ’s corporate office to bring the fast-casual restaurant to Evans, Kamis said.
The group opened its first PDQ late last year in Jacksonville, Fla., where there now is a second restaurant. The team is expected to open two or three more PDQ restaurants across Florida this year, Kamis said.
This is the first PDQ to open in Georgia. The restaurant will hire about 75 employees. It might also feature appearances from some of the owners.
“It could happen,” Kamis said. “Vinny has been to some of the openings previously. I’m not sure if Tim’s been at a grand opening, but he’s certainly visited the restaurants before. They definitely have been there.”
Tampa, Fla.-based PDQ was founded in 2011 in part by Bob Basham, a co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, and Nick Reader, a former financial executive for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The chain now has nearly 25 restaurants across the Southeast.