|In this issue:
-Georgia's Equalization Schools
-Artifacts on the Move
-Case Study: New Life for Historic School
-A Quick Look at Historic Building Rehabilitation Issues: Windows
-HPD's Consultants Directory
-Ask HPD: Economic Incentives
-Staff Profiles: Lynn Speno
Georgia's Equalization Schools
by Steven Moffson, Architectural Historian
The Historic Preservation Division has been working over the last several years to identify and better understand the emergence of modern schools that were built for African-Americans across the state after World War II. Southern states, including Georgia, maintained separate schools systems for white and black children as late as 1970, long after the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Equalization schools, as they are now called, were built by the state to improve education for blacks and to demonstrate that it could operate racially separate and equal public school systems. The state of Georgia spent nearly $275 million on new schools, including 500 new schools for African-American children.
Vienna High and Industrial School exemplifies the International Style with its walls of glass, flat roof, emphasis on modern materials, and its lack of ornament.
These modern schools were built in urban and rural African American communities throughout the state from roughly 1952 to 1962. In almost every community, they were the newest and largest modern buildings. The Vienna High and Industrial School, for example, was the largest building in Vienna (Dooly County) when it was completed in 1959. Designed in the International Style, equalization schools were larger and more technologically advanced than earlier schools for African Americans. In Ellaville (Schley County), the John Lewis School, built in 1957, replaced 11 black schools, including nine one-room schools. In many cases, equalization schools supplanted Rosenwald schools, which had been built decades earlier in the 1920s and 1930s.
Plans for equalization schools varied in complexity. Small schools featured long, low classroom blocks and an auditorium, such as the Martin School in Bronwood (Terrell County), which was built in 1957 and closed in 1970. The Martin School was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Larger schools featured sprawling campuses that included separate buildings for libraries, cafeterias, and gymnasiums. Main High School in Rome (Floyd County) is a sprawling campus that was built for African American students beginning in the 19th century. The Main campus includes a Colonial Revival-style classroom building, built in 1934, and six modern buildings that were built between 1955 and 1963. Main High School was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
Equalization schools were a source of pride, independence, and cultural cohesion in African-American communities. They were administered by black principals and faculty who taught an improved academic curriculum, which added higher-level math and science courses and extended beyond the vocational training programs that had been standard for African American schools. Excelsior High School in Rochelle (Wilcox County), for example, taught Latin and students traveled to academic competitions in Georgia and Tennessee.
Some schools were open as many as 18 hours a day to accommodate sports and club activities. Schools offered adult classes for parents and welcomed the community for plays and recitals. Marching bands were especially popular. They drew crowds at half-time and when they marched downtown during homecoming parades.
By 1970, racial desegregation of the state’s public schools resulted in the closure of many African American schools after little more than a decade of use. The consolidation of black and white school systems left a surplus of schools so that most African American high schools were either reduced to junior highs, or simply closed and vacated when white-dominated school boards created integrated school systems. The closure of equalization schools devastated black communities, which lost control of their schools, lost role models in teachers and principals who were not rehired in the integrated schools, and lost their school history because they could not keep their yearbooks, school colors, and mascots.
Many equalization schools continued to be used as schools, recreation centers, senior centers, and other uses, but many have been demolished, such as Excelsior High School in Rochelle, and many remain vacant, such as Vienna High and Industrial School in Vienna, the John Lewis School in Ellaville, Martin School in Bronwood, and Good Hope School in Good Hope (Walton County).
How you can get involved
The study of equalization schools is an ongoing effort and the Historic Preservation Division is seeking information on equalization schools across the state. We are especially interested in school history and information about design and construction. Yearbooks and photos from the 1950s and 1960s are especially helpful. For more information, please contact Steven Moffson at 404-651-5906, or email@example.com. In addition, Jeanne Cyriaque and Joy Melton at HPD are working to locate existing equalization schools and are meeting with alumni groups to help save their historic schools. Jeanne and Joy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Artifacts on the Move
by Chris McCabe, Deputy State Archaeologist - Underwater
ECU Conservator Susanne Grieve and Deputy State Archaeologist Chris McCabe secure the Oconee River dugout canoe in its conservation treatment tank. (Courtesy of East Carolina University)
Earlier this summer, staff from the Coastal Underwater Archaeology Field Station and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography removed a fragile wooden dugout canoe from its temporary wet-storage tank in Savannah and prepared it for shipment to East Carolina University’s Maritime Conservation Laboratory in Greenville, NC. The eight-foot long wooden artifact was placed in storage at the Applied Coastal Research Lab at the Skidaway Institute last year after a Milledgeville resident discovered it lying partially exposed in the Oconee River north of Dublin. In June 2010, a suitable treatment tank became available (on loan from the Queen Ann’s Revenge Project) and efforts to conserve the important vessel shifted back into gear. The canoe is now resting in an extended treatment bath of polyethylene glycol that will ultimately stabilize the saturated watercraft from cellular collapse and rapid deterioration. Once treatment is complete, the canoe will likely be placed on public display at Georgia's Old Capital Museum in Milledgeville.
Field Station personnel also helped find a home for another important Georgia maritime artifact this summer. A Confederate frame-torpedo (similar to a static modern-day underwater mine) was recovered during an Army Corps of Engineers dredge operation in state-owned waters, later rendered inert, and then treated at the Clemson Conservation Center in Charleston, SC (current home of Civil War-era submarine Hunley). Following conservation, Deputy State Archaeologist Chris McCabe retrieved the rare artifact and made arrangements with officials at Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites to have the torpedo curated at the Ft. McAllister Historic Park in Richmond Hill.
Case Study: New Life for Historic School
by Elizabeth Shirk, Environmental Review Coordinator
The City of Johns Creek in Fulton County is using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to renovate Newtown Elementary School for use as a senior center. The use of these funds requires compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and review of the project by Historic Preservation Division (HPD) staff. Often there is more to the story than just the information that is submitted to our office and staff must piece together the missing details in order to provide an opinion on a project’s effects if any to historic properties. This project involving the historic school illustrates this very well.
The Newtown Elementary School was built in 1929. (Photos courtesy of Michael Shirk)
The school, located at the crossroads of two major roads(Haynes Bridge and Old Alabama) in the city of Johns Creek (north Fulton County), was listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 2006. When the elementary school was built in 1929, it was in the unincorporated community of New Town in Milton County (Milton was merged into Fulton County in 1931). The school closed in 1980 and has been vacant since 1991, when it was deeded to Fulton County government. It is a one-story brick building designed in an H-shaped arrangement with a total of four classrooms – two on each side with an assembly room at the crossbar of the H.
Part of the story behind the NRHP listing of Newtown Elementary School lies in local efforts to preserve the school. After the dilapidated building was referred to as an eyesore, the Newtown Park Community Foundation, a non-profit established by the Friends of Newtown Park, explored options with Fulton County to renovate the building. An application for a Historic Preservation Fund Grant from HPD led to the preparation of a National Register nomination for the school. The grant was not awarded but the school was listed on the NRHP. According to the National Register nomination prepared by HPD, the school was recognized for its significance in architecture because it is a good example of an elementary school built with minimal details or embellishments that retained its original form, workmanship, and much of its interior details. It was also recognized for its significance in education because it was built to serve the elementary needs of a large rural community, replacing an earlier rural one-room school.
Fulton County used local funds for some of the work to stabilize the building. HPD did not review these improvements, as there was no federal or state involvement. However, the roof was replaced, asbestos was removed and plans were made to renovate the school and construct a new facility adjacent to it that would serve as a community center. Before these plans could be implemented, ownership of Newtown Park and the school passed from Fulton County to the newly incorporated City of Johns Creek.
HPD received project information in August 2009 from the City of Johns Creek for renovations using its federal CDBG funds. The proposed work included new gutters, masonry repointing, porch and column repairs, new windows and doors, removal of floor, wall and ceiling materials to framing/substrate, installation of insulation, new interior floor/wall/ceiling finishes and new mechanical and electrical systems. Information on the proposed treatments confirmed that the work conformed to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties and led to a finding of no adverse effect to historic properties for the replacement of the missing windows, replacement of the missing column, reinstallation of the missing doors and initial covering of ceiling and floors with modern finishes provided as much of the existing historic finish materials as possible is retained.
Work is progressing on the school and adaptive use of the school as a senior center should be a reality in the near future. Funding and other factors often provide challenges for reuse of historic buildings but local interest and recognition of the significance of the buildings are basic stepping-stones to their retention. Newtown Elementary School is a good example of this. This project is also a good example of how CDBG funds can be used by a community to rehabilitate and reuse historic properties. HPD’s Environmental Review staff is available to provide technical assistance for these types of projects.
More information on the school is located at www.newtownpark.org/hisschool.html. For more information on historic preservation and HUD programs, see HUD publication “Community Development Block Grant Program Preserving America.”
A Quick Look at Historic Building Rehabilitation Issues: Windows
by Bill Hover, Tax Incentives & Rehabilitation Guidance Program Manager
One of the most frequent issues that come up in a historic building rehabilitation, whether it’s dealing with a home or commercial building, involves windows. The tendency of the owner, architect, or contractor is to view the windows as something that needs to be replaced, which can be for a variety of reasons. Often it is in order to improve energy efficiency.
A window is restored as part of a project at the Grant Mansion in Atlanta.
Since saving energy is part of conservation and being “green,” which are good things, why then would replacing “bad” windows be a preservation issue?
Three key aspects of the answer to this question include historic integrity, understanding sustainability (being “green”), and putting energy efficiency into context.
One of the underlying principles of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, and preservation in general, is maintaining a historic building’s physical authenticity, which could also be considered a reflection of society values. Physical authenticity is a component of a property’s historic integrity and is demonstrated by retaining character-defining features. Windows are a character-defining feature; their loss diminishes historic authenticity and integrity and, therefore, should be avoided.
Being “green,” which might more correctly be defined as being “sustainable,” is essentially about the wise and efficient use of resources for the benefit of current and future generations. Sustainability brings to mind things like reducing waste streams and landfill needs, recycling, water, land, forest, and other natural resource conservation, and energy conservation. These concepts also intrinsically include minimizing and avoiding the use of new resources. One way to do that is to use existing resources. Rehabilitation is fundamentally about using existing resources. Furthermore, retaining and repairing existing features is fundamental to rehabilitation. Since historic windows are existing features of an existing resource, keeping them fits the “green” definition as compared to their replacement, which requires disposal and the depletion of resources represented by the new windows. The “green” effect of retaining historic windows is compounded when you also take into account their service life. A well-maintained historic wood window can last a hundred years or more; modern windows have warranties in the range of 20 years, which implies they may need to be replaced five times in the same measuring period.
Historic window energy efficiency is the poster child argument for their replacement with new, “energy efficient” windows. Factually, though, no window is energy efficient. When converting the measurement used for windows (U-value) to that used for other building components (R-value), a historic window in well-maintained condition will measure about R-1, adding a storm window will raise it to about R-2; a high-quality modern thermal-glazed window will measure about R-3. Obviously, neither does very well measured against the standards set by insulated walls and floors (R-11), and attics (R-38). So from a purely “energy efficiency” standpoint, windows should be avoided altogether. However, they also serve other important functions, including providing natural light and ventilation, and have aesthetic value. Another consideration is the return on investment. Studies commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and others have concluded that the cost of window replacement, through reduced power bills for a typical house, takes at least 40 years to recoup. Considering anticipated modern window service life and population mobility trends, where the average person only stays in the same house for five to seven years, payback on investment likely won’t occur at all. Comparitively speaking, retaining and repairing historic windows, versus their replacement, should be a desirable option.
Taking all these factors into account, the appropriate treatment of historic windows to realize preservation, “green,” and energy efficiency goals is to repair them to quality operable condition where possible and add storm windows, if necessary or desired. This approach should also be readily achievable because repairing historic windows is relatively straightforward. To learn more about the repair of historic windows and conserving energy in historic buildings refer to Preservation Brief No.3: Conserving Energy in Historic Buildings, Preservation Brief No.9: The Repair of Historic Wooden Windows, and Preservation Brief No.13: The Repair and Thermal Upgrading of Historic Steel Windows.
The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, in partnership with the Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Coastal Heritage Society will offer a two-day Wood Window Restoration Workshop at the Roundhouse Museum in Savannah, September 3-4, 2010. Join us for this hands-on workshop where you can learn to maintain, repair and restore your wood windows. Contact Sarah Marie Jackson at 318-356-7444 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
HPD’s Consultants Directory
by Candy Henderson, Operations & Outreach Section Chief
Owning and caring for historic properties in a responsible manner requires people with a preservation ethic. It also takes qualified and experienced historic preservation professionals and craftspeople.
HPD’s Consultants Directory can provide to constituents and the general public a list of design and consulting professionals with interest and experience in dealing with historic and archaeological resources as they seek professional services and expertise when undertaking preservation projects.
The Directory is divided into sub-directories based on the following eight disciplines: Archaeology, Architectural History, Engineering, Historic Architecture, Historic Landscape Architecture, Historic Preservation, Historic Preservation Planning, and History. Along with noting a consultant’s preservation profession, the Consultants Directory also provides a list of standard preservation services and other preservation-related services as provided to HPD by the consultant.
The services provided by the preservation consultant fill client needs including those for projects involving rehabilitation of historic properties, regulatory compliance associated with environmental review, grant funded projects, historic resource identification surveys, National Register nominations, and design guidelines for historic districts, to name a few.
Information contained in the HPD Consultants Directory files includes: professional references, resumes, company brochures, photographs of previous work, and HPD’s application review form.
Please note that the Consultants Directory is a self-nominated directory. As such, inclusion in this Directory does not represent an endorsement, recommendation, evaluation or assumption of responsibility for the quality of work of any listed consultant. There is no representation implicit or implied that any work product produced by those listed will meet federal or state requirements. There is no representation implicit or implied that the information provided by the consultant is accurate - it is made available as provided.
Ask HPD - Economic Incentives
Q. How can I get money to fix-up my old house?
A. This month's question is a very common one. HPD has two main types of financial assistance programs: small grants and tax incentives. Grants administered by HPD are available to local governments and non-profit groups - not to private property owners.
Historic residences that are privately-owned may be eligible for tax incentives.
Who can apply for tax incentives?
Property owners of a contributing structure located in a National/Georgia Register Historic District or a property that is individually listed in the National/Georgia Register of Historic Places. However, if your property is not yet listed in the National/Georgia Registers, you may still be eligible for tax incentives. Your building must be eligible for the Register and you must pursue getting it formally listed.
If I own an income-producing building, what incentives are available to me?
-a 20% tax credit of qualified rehab expenses on your federal income tax (no cap)
-a 25% tax credit of qualified rehab expenses on your state income tax, capped at $300,000
-a property tax assessment freeze for over 8 years
If I want to rehabilitate my primary residence, what incentives are available to me?
-a 25% tax credit of qualified rehabilitation expenses on your state income tax, capped at $100,000
- an property tax assessment freeze for over 8 years
We have recently added step-by-step instructions to apply for tax incentives on our web site.
To find out about other Funding Sources, check our recently-updated comprehensive list.
Unfortunately, HPD does not offer any funding sources before you accomplish your rehabilitation. Tax credits are taken the tax year you complete your work, but the rehabiltation plans must be approved through our office. HPD advises potential tax program applicants to submit their applications before beginning a project.
Do you have a burning question about our office or one of our programs? Do you ever wonder where our logo came from, what does "SHPO" stand for, or what kind of research materials we have? Here's your opportunity to email us your questions about HPD and our programs. We will answer at least one of these questions in each edition of Preservation Posts.
Please send your questions to Helen Talley-McRae at email@example.com. We'll include your name, organization affiliation, and location along with your question (unless you prefer to remain anonymous).
Lynn Speno, National Register Specialist
Lynn received her Masters in Historic Preservation from Georgia State University. At HPD, Lynn is the point of contact for the public for National Register questions and provides assistance to researchers using our file room. She provides support to the National Register and Survey programs in evaluating and reviewing projects, providing technical and procedural assistance, corresponding with applicants concerning their National Register projects, and preparing final nominations for the National Park Service.
How did you become involved in the field of historic preservation?
I have always been interested in historic places. I grew up in an American Foursquare house in an old section of Roanoke, Virginia. As a young student, I went on many field trips and vacations to historic places of interest in the state – Monticello, Mt. Vernon, Williamsburg, Appomattox - and developed an appreciation for historic homes and sites. As a college student in Staunton, Virginia, that appreciation grew while taking classes in art history and architecture. Quite a few years after completing college, when I realized that I could go to school and study about preserving historic buildings, I decided to attend graduate school and ended up at Georgia State University.
My first job after completing my master’s degree was with a small, woman-owned company that specialized in helping developers with historic rehabilitation projects throughout Georgia. We worked closely with HPD and the developers of these National Register-listed properties as they applied for state and federal tax incentives for their rehabilitations. I later worked at a small corporate archive before coming to HPD about three years ago.
What do you do on a typical day? What do you like most about your job?
I answer a lot of questions from the public about the National Register program, how it works, and how properties get listed in the National Register. I provide assistance to the public when they come in to use our research files. A lot of my time is also spent writing letters concerning an applicant’s request about the National Register program, writing press releases for newly listed properties, and reading and editing documents. I also prepare and present National Register nominations to our Georgia Review Board.
The best part of my job is that it involves a variety of things. The knowledge that I gained in my other preservation jobs translated very well into my current job at HPD. I enjoy helping the public get answers to their questions about how they can learn more about and help preserve their property or their community. I also like having the opportunity to read and write about historic places in Georgia.
What do you like to do outside the office?
When I am not in the office, I enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, canoeing, hiking, or bicycling especially in historic towns or scenic recreation areas.