Old & New
Members of Georgia Trust join local volunteers
to preserve historic Madison house
by dianne lively yost
photos provided by the georgia trust
Members of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation came together this Sunday with volunteers from the Madison-Morgan Conservancy, Morgan County Landmarks Society and Morgan County Historic Preservation Commission to participate in a clean-up day at a Madison home located at 399 West Jefferson Street that was purchased by the Georgia Trust to save it from demolition. The Georgia Trust has the property for sale by a suitable buyer for $35,000.
Georgia Trust President and Chief Executive Officer Mark McDonald joined 15 volunteers from the City of Madison and Morgan County to pick up garbage on the property, to clean up the interior of the home and remove plaster. “The Madison-Morgan County Conservancy, Morgan County Landmarks and the Historic Preservation Commission all sent out notices seeking volunteers for the day,” said City of Madison Planning Director Monica H. Callahan.
Kate Ryan, programs manager for the Georgia Trust, also attended the clean-up day. “Our work focused on clearing vegetation and debris, removing some rotting wood, securing windows and doors and cleaning the interior of the house as well as its yard,” Ryan said.
According to McDonald, “Our workday in Madison was a tremendous success thanks to our hardworking volunteers, many of whom were from Madison. We greatly appreciate all of their help as well as the support of the city who assisted with trash and debris removal. With the volunteer’s work and the work of a local contractor, this historic house will be much more marketable and brings us closer to our goal of finding a responsible preservation-minded buyer.”
The Georgia Trust bought Steve Stempenski’s West Jefferson Street house, located behind Ez Bottle Shop, and put it into a revolving fund whereby properties are purchased by Georgia Trust and are held until a buyer can be found who will purchase the property with a preservation easement.
According to Callahan, the Morgan County Landmarks Society made a call to the Georgia Trust to have them consider purchasing the home after the Morgan County Preservation Commission received an application from Stempenski to have the home torn down. “Landmarks didn’t want to see that happen,” she said.
The home was featured in 1991 in “Madison, Georgia: An Architectural Guide.” It is a circa 1891, 1,300-square-foot Folk Victorian style house built by Joseph M. McLeroy. According to the Georgia Trust, the property would have been an especially desirable location at the time it was built because it was located near two railroad depots in Madison. Also, according to the Georgia Trust, the house is eligible for several financial incentives including an 8.5-year tax abatement and tax credits for substantial rehabilitation since it is part of a National Register of Historic Places district. In addition, buyers may qualify for a tax write off when they purchase the home with a preservation easement.
On the Georgia Trust’s Web site, georgiatrust.org, it states the home will require substantial rehabilitation including all electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems.
Preservation architect and Madisonian Joseph Smith worked on the rehabilitation plan for the Georgia Trust, which is incorporated in the $35,000 purchase price.
Following the clean-up activities, Madisonian and Georgia Trust Board Member Christine Lambert hosted a membership cocktail party at her historic Madison home, Hilltop, Sunday evening for 100 guests. “The event was held to familiarize people with The Geogia Trust and to offer a chance for people to become members of our organization,” said Ryan.
Lambert said, “I wanted to have the opportunity to introduce people who live in Morgan County to this wonderful statewide organization that has done so much for Madison and Morgan County in the past and will continue to be a valuable resource for us in the future. We had a good crowd and gained some new members.”
Lambert said her family’s ties to the Georgia Trust date back to its founding, and the one of organization’s first annual meetings was held at Hilltop in the 1970s. Lambert’s husband, the late Roy Lambert, of Madison, served as President of the Georgia Trust for several years during the 1980s.
The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting an appreciation of Georgia’s diverse historic resources and providing for their protection and use to preserve, enhance and revitalize Georgia’s communities.
The Madison-Morgan Conservancy provides public education on conservation matters and protects and enhances the quality of life of the residents of Morgan County by preserving historic sites, greenspace, farmland and timberland.
Founded in 1976, the Morgan County Landmarks Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together those people interested in the preservation of the history of Morgan County through research, public education and activism.
Printed in the December 9, 2020 edition.