Ansley Park, covered bridge among state’s historic ‘Places in Peril’

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation published its list of Places in Peril Wednesday, describing historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Included was the Good Shepherd Schoolhouse, in Brunswick. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.
Caption
The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation published its list of Places in Peril Wednesday, describing historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Included was the Good Shepherd Schoolhouse, in Brunswick. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: to Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: to Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Development and neglect threaten historic properties, locations and neighborhoods.

From 1920 until 1970 patients came to Beatrice Borders from all over Mitchell County and elsewhere in South Georgia to give birth to their babies.

Borders, a midwife, operated the Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home, the only alternative for most African American women, and the only Black-owned birthing center in Georgia. She presided over 6,000 births.

ExploreBirth register of South Georgia Black mothers now online

Border’s modest, one-story cottage in Camilla, with its white awnings and azalea bushes, served as her residence, and as the birthing center for maternity patients and their families.

“This place,” former Camilla mayor Mary Jo Haywood once said, “virtually birthed a city.”

Today preservationists are trying to keep the structure from disintegrating.

“The roof is our worst part,” said Jacqueline Briscoe, head of the non-profit struggling to preserve this piece of history, and the granddaughter of “Miss Bea.”

“We did tarp it, but that’s just temporary,” said Briscoe. “The ceiling on the inside has begun to fall in certain areas, and the dampness is making the foundation and the floors weak.”

Caption
Some 6,000 babies were born under the care of the midwives at the Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home in Camilla, the only facility available to African American women in Mitchell County and th surrounding area. The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation named the home as one of its Places in Peril Wednesday, a list of historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Some 6,000 babies were born under the care of the midwives at the Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home in Camilla, the only facility available to African American women in Mitchell County and th surrounding area. The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation named the home as one of its Places in Peril Wednesday, a list of  historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.
Caption
Some 6,000 babies were born under the care of the midwives at the Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home in Camilla, the only facility available to African American women in Mitchell County and th surrounding area. The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation named the home as one of its Places in Peril Wednesday, a list of historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

The Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home is on a new list of the 10 most endangered historic sites in the state.

The list, called Places in Peril, is published each year by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. It draws attention to locations and notable buildings that are threatened by neglect, development or insensitive public policy. “We hope the list will continue to bring preservation solutions to Georgia’s imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites,” said president and CEO Mark C. McDonald.

This year’s list includes a cemetery, a covered bridge and one of the richest neighborhoods in Atlanta.

The latter, Ansley Park, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and is distinguished by Olmsted-inspired landscape architecture and houses designed by such notables as Neel Reid and Philip Shutze.

Unfortunately, demolition and inappropriate infill have reduced the number of historic structures. “If you lose more than 50% of your contributing buildings in an historic district you can lose your National Register status,” said McDonald, adding that Ansley has lost perhaps 40 percent or more.

Losing that status can remove a neighborhood’s tax advantages as well as protection from federal transportation projects. (Such status kept through-traffic from being re-routed through Ansley during the construction of the 17th Street bridge, said McDonald.)

“The situation is very perilous,” he said.

Other places on the list include these locations:

The Chattahoochee Brick Company in Fulton County

Founded in 1878 on the banks of the Chattahoochee, this industrial facility used convict labor, also known as “slavery by another name.”

Now just a vacant overgrown lot, the site is zoned for industrial use, but many descendants of convicts and others believe it should be preserved to tell this shameful chapter of history.

Georgia Fairgrounds in Gay

The structures on the fairgrounds are used only two weekends a year, during a festival that brings, arts, crafts and live music to the small community. “With no prior effort to properly preserve the buildings, there is potential for deterioration and damage to the grounds in the off-season,” according to the Georgia Trust.

Good Shepherd Episcopal School in Brunswick

The only remaining evidence of Pennick, a community created by freed men and women in Brunswick, the Good Shepherd school and church were founded by Anna Ellison Butler Alexander, who in 1907 became the first African American woman to be named a deacon of the Episcopal Church.

In 1998 Alexander was named a Saint of Georgia by the Diocese of Georgia.

Imperial Hotel in Thomasville

Created for an African American clientele, this eight-room hotel was listed in the Green Book as a safe harbor for Black tourists during the Jim Crow era.

Vacant since 2001, it is “in a severe state of neglect.”

Red Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville

Overlooking the Old State Prison Farm in Milledgeville, this cemetery holds the unmarked graves of at least 600 incarcerated men and women.

Caption
The Red Oak Covered Bridge in Woodbury, dating from the 1840s, was built by Horace King or his son. King, born into slavery, was widely respected as a builder and an engineer. The bridge is listed as part of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's Places in Peril, historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

The Red Oak Covered Bridge in Woodbury, dating from the 1840s, was built by Horace King or his son. King, born into slavery, was widely respected as a builder and an engineer. The bridge is listed as part of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's Places in Peril, historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.
Caption
The Red Oak Covered Bridge in Woodbury, dating from the 1840s, was built by Horace King or his son. King, born into slavery, was widely respected as a builder and an engineer. The bridge is listed as part of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's Places in Peril, historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Red Oak Covered Bridge in Woodbury

This Meriwether County historic site, dating from the 1840s, is regularly damaged by trucks and other vehicles that ignore its height restrictions and smash into the top or sides.

It’s the only surviving bridge still in use, out of dozens designed and constructed by former slave Horace King or his son. King was allowed to travel freely in the South, building bridges in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

Thicket Ruins in Darien

An early 19th-century sugar mill and rum distillery built on the shores of the Carnochan Creek grew into a community. But the tabby structures are being lost to erosion and climate change and the walls of the mill have collapsed

Caption
The West Broad Street School in Athens is part of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's new list of Places in Peril, historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

The West Broad Street School in Athens is part of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's new list of Places in Peril, historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.
Caption
The West Broad Street School in Athens is part of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's new list of Places in Peril, historic structures and locales that are in danger from neglect or development. Photos: courtesy Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

Credit: Halston Pitman/Walter Sippel/MotorSportMedia.

West Broad Street School in Athens

Athens is one of the seats of higher education in Georgia, but it also holds remnants of the Jim Crow era of schooling, as well as the “equalization” period, when school boards ignored “Brown Vs. the Board of Education” and tried to prolong segregation.

Three buildings on West Broad Street represent those times. “It merits retaining (those) buildings so we can fully tell that story,” said McDonald.

A more detailed account of Georgia’s “Places in Peril” can be found at GeorgiaTrust.org.

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