By Christine McCauley Watts
The Madison-Morgan Conservancy has been protecting Morgan County’s special places since its founder executed the first conservation easement in Morgan County in 2004. That easement permanently protects half an acre behind a historic house in Madison’s Historic District – the half acre that led to thousands.
Thanks to the Conservancy’s work over many years, thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, open space, farmland, and forests in Morgan County are permanently protected through voluntary, donated conservation easements. Three important historic structures have also been saved and/or restored in the county: the Wallace Grove School, the Malcom House, and the Sugar Creek Church. It’s an effort to retain and perpetuate those resources critical to the quality of life of future generations.
Even with two State Preservation Awards under its belt, the Conservancy felt there was more to be accomplished. The Board assessed its programming during its strategic planning process two years ago and decided to explore the possibility of developing a revolving fund to “purchase, protect, divest, and reinvest in” endangered properties to be even more effective in protecting critical resources. Soon after that fateful meeting, the Board contracted a revolving fund feasibility study.
The positive findings from Hanbury Preservation Consulting’s feasibility study led the Conservancy to launch a fundraising effort to raise $1,250,000. Thanks to the Watson-Brown Foundation, The 1772 Foundation, countless contributions from individuals and corporations, and the recent supporters of the Derby Day Raffle, the Conservancy is 84 percent to its goal.
With partial funding secured, the Conservancy has contracted to purchase the Foster-Thomason-Miller House and adjoining lot on Main Street (1.8 acres), which was recently named on the GA Trust’s “Places in Peril” list. The closing date has been set for May 7th, after which the Conservancy will stabilize the building. Once stable, the property will be marketed to a “conservation buyer” who will agree to abide by a preservation agreement requiring certain construction by certain times. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is how most revolving funds work, including the GA Trust for Historic Preservation’s Revolving Fund, which has saved at least two structures in Madison in the last 10 years.
The GA Trust has assisted the Conservancy in setting up this Endangered Properties Revolving Fund from the beginning and will continue to support the Conservancy’s efforts. In fact, the GA Trust has agreed to market the sale of the property through their Rambler magazine and through their online channels. We are grateful for their support and look forward to collaborating with them on saving the Foster-Thomason-Miller House.
Anyone interested in protecting the Foster-Thomason-Miller House and the other endangered properties in Morgan County can contribute to the Conservancy’s efforts by:
Contributing to the Endangered Properties Revolving Fund: www.mmcGeorgia.org/endangeredpropertiesrevolvingfund/
Donating property to the Conservancy (a tax deductible gift to a 501(c)3)
Joining the Conservancy as a member: www.mmcGeorgia/membership/
The Conservancy needs your financial support to ensure the safe passage of endangered properties to future generations. Every contribution will make a difference to the future of Morgan County.