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Another loss to local history

Posted: April 12, 2014 - 11:14pm

It appears that time is no longer on the side of the old Evans Teachers’ Cottage.

After weeks of working to put together a plan and the money to fund it, the “Save the Teachers’ Cottage” committee announced this week that they had given up on moving the nearly 100-year-old structure.

The group determined they needed $66,500 to demolish part of building and move the historic original cottage to school board property off of Columbia Road. That was “phase one” of a plan to move, restore and maintain the old building for community use.

Rob Nordan, committee member and representative of the Columbia County Historical Society said the group had committments for more than $36,000 of the initial amount needed, but that wasn’t going to be enough.

“We greatly appreciate the support from the community and investors,” Nordan said on Thursday. “However, we regret that we have not reached our financial goal. We, therefore, will not be proceeding with our Phase One.”

Nordan said that all the contrubutions that have been collected for the project will be returned.

Exactly what will happen next isn’t entirely determined, but it seems most likely that the cottage and adjoining structures will be torn down within a few weeks to make way for a new PDQ restaurant that has been announced for that location.

There are hopes that the new owners – who by all accounts were very willing to work with the group on moving the building – will try to incorporate some of the old Evans school memorbilia or photographs in the decor. It has also been suggested that some part of the structure or at least a historical marker will be put in place commemorating the site.

Admittedly, it seemed like moving the old building was a longshot. It was a worthwhile idea, but the amount of money involved -- well over $100,000 to move and restore the structure – not to mention yearly maintenance – seemed like an insurmountable obstacle from the beginning.

The underlying question is “how much is our history worth?”

With Columbia County growing at the pace we have seen over the past three decades, it is easy to understand how history gets bulldozed in the process. It takes a lot of thought, planning and an ongoing committment to an often difficult undertaking, to be successful at honoring and recognizing our collective past.

One significant factor has to do with our changing community.

Most of the people being added to Columbia County’s swelling population are from places far away from Evans or Harlem. They don’t have a local connection, and thus are less inclined to feel emotionally invested in local history. I really don’t know how you overcome that, but I do know the number of historic structures left in this county is finite. This one is lost. Maybe there was never a chance to save it.

But there will eventually come a day when the number of chances we have to save a piece of local history will finally run out.

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Comments (3)

soapy_725

What CC history? Like the 1812 Cemetery at Washington Rd

and Euchee Creek history. Despite a call to the CCSO and requests made to the bulldozer crew, progress must move forward. Mr. William Lowe would prefer that his and his families' final resting place be respected and his bones not scattered around in the swamp. But, CC is all about progress. CC history is reserved by two or three families who came after Mr. Lowe.

And it is not that the owner of the land on which Mr. Lowe is buried does not know. He knows. The GA DOT doesn't know because it is absent from their maps, as is a Rev War cemetery another mile down the road.

There should be a special place in hell for those that desecrate the remains of those who have chosen a Christian burial.

Georgia's Abandoned Cemeteries and Burial Grounds Act of 1991 tried to prevent abuse. But as with all laws, they should be enforced. Not in CC. Not even a mention of a cemetery on the CC "land development documents".

soapy_725

Why don't the folks at the CC Historical Society buy and

preserve the building? Not like they can't afford to preserve "important" structures.

ColumbiaCountyOrchestraA

Historic preservation in Columbia County, Georgia

In regard to the soapy_725 posts on the April 13, 2014 article:
Thank you soapy_725 for your posts.

Whereas the Columbia County Historical Society (CCHS) supports the "Save the Teachers' Cottage" committee preservation effort, the CCHS is not in a position financially to underwrite the project. Phase One required $66,500, but only $36,500 could be raised. Historic preservation minded entities & individuals greatly regret that there is not sufficient financial backing for the project. In addition to the $66,500 needed, another $114,000-135,000 would be needed. Efforts have been made to save it, but there is simply not enough financial backing.
In regard to cemeteries, a committee in Columbia County has been organized to comprehensively inventory historic sites, historic buildings, and public & private cemeteries that are found THROUGHOUT Columbia County, Georgia. This committee is already at work and SOON a list will be available for the perusal of the public.
Thank you for your interest & support.
Sincerely,
Rob Nordan

Robert Nordan

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