Georgia Trust names new additions to Places in Peril list

What do one of the oldest female dormitories in Athens and railroad buildings in Atlanta have in common?

They're considered among the state's 10 most endangered historic sites by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

"These 10 sites are representative of the type of situations that are occurring all over the state," said Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of  the trust, one of the largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations in the nation.

The list includes Rutherford Hall, built in 1939 at the University of Georgia in Athens. The university recently announced plans to demolish the building to build a new 260-bed residence hall.

UGA officials say the hall’s deteriorating condition makes tearing it down the best financial option.

This is the seventh time the trust has compiled a Places in Peril list. Of those added over the years, 26 have been saved, three have been lost and there's been no substantial progress on 31, McDonald said.

"I think more Georgians understand that it's important to save your history and important for every community to be distinctive and unique," he said.

The trust encourages people to find ways to breathe life back into structures. "We want people to use these buildings productively so they can continue to have an economic life," McDonald said.

The trust also cited buildings once part of Atlanta's railroad legacy. They include Peachtree Station, now known as Brookwood Station, on Peachtree Street and the Norfolk Southern complex on Spring Street. Brookwood is leased to Amtrak and the Norfolk Southern complex includes two 1912 buildings and vacant land known as the Gulch.

Susan M. Terpay, a spokeswoman for Norfolk Southern Corp., said while the company supports the preservation of Brookwood Station, "we believe the Spring Street office buildings have relatively little historic value compared with so many other buildings in downtown Atlanta."

"As a company with a 180-year history, we are committed to preserving our heritage where it is practical, desirable and makes common sense," Terpay said.

Also on the list is Orange Hall in St. Marys, which was built between 1829 and 1839 and draws thousands of visitors annually.

Keith Post, a St. Marys city councilman and treasurer for the Orange Hall Foundation, said being on the list shows the local community "that we care deeply about this treasure we have and that we reached out to some experts in the field."

He said there is some deterioration of the brick and that the facility is  in desperate need of a paint job and shoring up in the center.

Barbara Ryan, chairwoman of the St. Marys Convention & Visitors Bureau, said she hopes people and organizations will help restore the home, which survived the Civil War. "It endured war but not the passage of time, so that's why we need help."

2012 list of Places in Peril:

Rutherford Hall, University of Georgia

Orange Hall, St. Marys

W.W. Law House, Savannah

Historic railroad buildings of Atlanta

Historic Liberty Street, Milledgeville

Randolph County Courthouse, Cuthbert

Mount Zion Church, Sparta

Crown Mill Store, Dalton

Secondary Industrial High School, Columbus

Chattahoochee Park Pavilion, Gainesville

Source: The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation