Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Save the Courthouse - or not...

In today's vote, there are a lot of different issues to consider - senate races, governor races - but here in Our Town the big vote is to Save the Courthouse - or not.

The Hyatt Hotel on the square in Ellijay was built in 1898, and was converted to the county courthouse in 1934.

The building has been going downhill ever since, the outside brick is deteriorating, the foundation is sinking, the inside wood is cracking and unsafe, it is the home of animal infestations, leaks, creaks, moans. The building was condemned in 2003 for several code violations.

The old hotel has done pretty well and lasted much longer than it should have. It is worn out and ready to be laid to rest.

The county officials are trying to bring this issue to rest (literally) so they can move forward with much needed facility improvements and additions.

It is now in the hands of the voters. The officials say that if the vote is to demolish the old building, an exact replica will be built in its place (see artist's sketch). Or if the vote is to save the building, virtually everything will have to be replaced, taking a LOT of taxpayer's money to do so.

Save the courthouse?

save the records
save the stories
save the pictures...

save mementos - like the mantle piece in the lobby, the wooden pews in the courtroom, the bannisters going up the stairs..

Decaying wood and crumbling bricks do not history make.

Recently, the old historic Wal-Mart store was demolished to make way for a bigger and better Ingle's grocery store, and no one even lifted a finger to save it, no banners, signs, telephone campaigns, or full-page ads in the newspaper.

It was sad to see it go, a lot of bargains were found there, our first Wal-Mart…


Anonymous said...

Out here in Colorado everything is relatively new and they don't give a second thought to tearing it down. Now historic buildings are a different matter. Of coarse the historic buildings here aren't so old and can be restored rather easily. Wood doesn't rot as quickly here and bug infestion is not commmon either. Yuk!
I'd vote for a replica using as much of the interior furnishings as possible.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they should build the new one with some of the leftovers from the old building. I agree about the Walmart. It reminds me that I have always wondered about why some animals are sacred, and we are discusted when someone wears their hides; but it is OK to use cow hide as coats, wallets, etc. Who decides this stuff anyway?

Motherkitty said...

In our little burg we have a very old historic building that was once our high school. It is handsome with gothic columns and a clock tower. My children even went to school there for a short time before they built the new grade school and new middle school.

When, in the course of time, the decision to renovate or build a new city hall was discussed, an architect was hired to evaluate this beauty. Everyone wanted to save it. Thousands upon thousands of our tax dollars were spent to see if the old relic could be saved for another day and used for a new purpose.

In the end, it was cheaper (I think) to buy an existing old shopping center in the center of town, gut it, rebuild it, and and make it into the showplace of downtown complete with a new visitor's center, city hall, police station, and drive-in bank. It is a thing of beauty.

The old building? It still sits, rotting on its foundation, windows broken, a haven for pigeons and all manner of wildlife. One of these days, some brilliant savant will set fire to it finally resolving the issue of what to do with history.

Frankly, my dear, sometimes the old must go but I prefer the old any old day. I must be watching too much HGTV.

Judith said...

I think it's such a shame historic buildings get pushed to the cliff edge before decisions get made about them. Many historic buildings were saved in the former city I lived in and they are the buildings that bring the whole city together making the new stand out as well, but definitely keeping an important sense of history and pride to the city. It'll be interesting to hear how the vote turns out to save your courthouse or not. --I miss the old Woolworth's we had that was downtown...sigh.

colleen said...

We have a wonderful and active Historic Society here. Every old building gone is like a death to me, but sometimes it's like taking out a rotten tooth!

I can't believe the twist...that Walmart was demolished for an Ingles! Walmart is a mixed bag.

jellyhead said...

It sure is a beautiful old building - I can see why there has been so much controversy and dissent as to what should be done. I guess in the end, the building needs to be able to be used safely, and financial considerations are important, too. Maybe a replica, with whatever original features can be salvaged, is the best idea - like Tuff suggested.

Let us know what happens!