A Sense of Place: Sharing our Stories and Advocating for Preservation
This is the last Preservation Spotlight for the month. The point behind each of these weekly spotlights this month is to show your impact on preservation efforts over the past six years - since the 2016 capital campaign. This spotlight will showcase the Patricia Jackson Howard Scholarship, the Virginia T. Peebles Preservation Grant, and our latest advocacy efforts!
In June, we will return to the regular history-related emails. However, for this month - we need you to know how important you are to the work you love! Historic preservation only flourishes because of your passion for the history of this town, its stories, and its people. If you have any questions or concerns, never hesitate to contact the HCF Office – 706-322-0756 or email@example.com.
Thank you for all you do for preservation in Columbus!
ADVOCATING FOR PRESERVATION
In May 2018, Historic Columbus joined with Help Save Hilton to oppose a 94 – unit residential development on the property located at 2551 Wynnton Road, also known as the historic Hilton property. Historic Columbus made an offer in January 2019 to the Eakle family for $1.2M. It was respectfully rejected with no counter. In April of that year, the Atlanta developer, TBG, was officially denied their appeal with DCA for the low-income housing tax credits. In May 2019, Help Save Hilton and Historic Columbus were joined by MidTown, Inc. in the efforts to advocate for a neighborhood-friendly solution to the property. Since that time, Historic Columbus has spoken with several individuals interested in finding a solution. To our understanding, a buyer has not been determined at this point. Historic Columbus’ main objective is to continue to protect the character and historic resources within the surrounding neighborhoods.
In 2018, Historic Columbus was approached by St. Mary’s Road UMC to provide grant funding to assist in creating a Revolving Fund of their own to support neighborhood revitalization efforts in Ewart Park. Neighborhoods like Ewart Park often offer more affordable housing options than newer areas while creating employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for residents of all incomes. Making better use of the tremendous adaptive potential of under-used existing buildings is a proven way forward. This is why neighborhoods like Ewart Park, East Wynnton, East Highlands, Waverly Terrace, and those in The Mill District are vital to Columbus’ overall success. Historic Columbus continues to support the efforts of St. Mary’s Road UMC in their work in Ewart Park.
The most recent advocacy effort has been in the Midtown neighborhood of Carver Heights, located behind the Columbus Public Library. Historic Columbus has been working with residents of Carver Heights and Amanda Rees, retired CSU professor, to put together a National Register Historic District Nomination. HCF is funding the development of the nomination. The preliminary application has been submitted and approved by the State Preservation Office to move forward to a formal nomination. The National Register Historic District Nomination will be completed and submitted by the end of this year. This will be Columbus’ first African American National Register Historic District. From the draft of the nomination: After World War II, African American soldiers returned from fighting fascism abroad to demand freedom at home. Described in the early 1950s as “Columbus’ largest residential development for colored home-owners” Carver Heights was characterized as “largely an army colony.” As the city’s first post-war African American suburb, this community offered new homes that could be purchased through federal mortgages for Black enlisted and veteran soldiers who returned and retired in the city.
Historic Columbus, through its General Fund, established a Historic Preservation Grant Program in 2005 to honor its third Executive Director, Virginia T. Peebles. The purpose of the Virginia T. Peebles Grant is to aid in the protection of irreplaceable historic resources and to facilitate, stimulate and incubate projects to renovate, stabilize or plan for the protection of architecturally significant non-residential structures. Recent awards have been to the Stewart Community Home for $6,000 – historic window restoration – in 2019 and The Wynn House for $3,000 – kitchen repair – in 2020. Peebles grants have also been awarded to the Ma Rainey House, the William H. Spencer House, and the Historic District Preservation Society. A total of almost $43,000 has served as the spark for 15 projects in our community.
EDUCATING CHILDREN AND ADULTS ABOUT COLUMBUS HISTORY
The Patricia Jackson Howard Memorial Scholarship was established in memory of Mrs. Howard, a long-time volunteer and the second Executive Director of the organization (1989-1992). It was her wish that a scholarship be awarded to a graduating high school senior based on the student’s merit and need. The scholarship (now $4,000) is also provided directly to the recipient for the use to purchase items associated with attending a university or college. Now in its 29th year, $48,000 in scholarships have been made in Patti’s name. Eli Hardegree was recently announced as this year's recipient of the Howard Scholarship! Eli is a graduating senior of Columbus High School and will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall. Congratulations, Eli!
Another important piece of Historic Columbus’ mission is to educate the public about the local and regional history. Children’s programming is largely represented by the series, Our Town. The books tell the story of Columbus’ early days and its important buildings through an introductory history, coloring book images, and Columbus’ architectural styles. All public schools are offered the Our Town series. Today, there have been over 35,000 copies of the books distributed to school age children. This past year, 306 Our Town Books, Movies, Teachers Guides were distributed to Forrest Road Elementary and the East Columbus Boys & Girls Club. Thanks to HCF Board Member Florene Dawkins, Historic Columbus donated kits to build log cabins and individual paints for 60 children attending camp at Truth Spring Academy in July, along with 60 “Our Town: Coloring Books.” We will also be able to provide this activity once again this summer, thanks to Florene! For this coming school year, Historic Columbus is working with FabArts to develop a new play about the history of our town to be performed in each third-grade classroom. The new “Rivertown Play” is currently being developed by professional storyteller Cathy Kaemmerlen and showcases the community’s Native American history; the importance of the Chattahoochee River; Horace King’s contributions; and our city’s important industrial history.
As you may have seen, a large area of focus over the past year has been expanding our adult education through HCF’s social media. This has come in the form of daily posts, Tuesdays with Justin, and history spotlights on Thursdays. This past year, we have celebrated Wynnton, the Northern Liberties, the Fire Department, the hospitals, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, local industries, Preservation Month, the history of Phenix City, our local military heroes, our public schools, and most recently our historic downtown churches. We consistently reach over 30,000 Facebook and 2,400 Instagram accounts each month. Beginning in August, our Lunch and Lectures will return! We will kick off with local historian, Rod Hinton. More information will be coming your way in the coming months! Next Week: We will be taking the week off to prepare for new History Spotlights in June and throughout the summer! We hope everyone has a relaxing and happy Memorial Day! Thank you for celebrating Preservation Month and we will see you in June!