For years, Historic Augusta has been desperately trying to save the Goodale house, built in 1799, along Sand Bar Ferry Road.
But this past week, all of their efforts were instantly turned into rubble as the Alabama owner, who purchased the property for a mere $20,000 about seven years ago, tore down the two-story brick Federal style home.
It’s a sad end to a home that was said to be one of the oldest structures in Georgia to survive in a relatively unaltered condition.
The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places exactly 40 years ago, according to Historic Augusta’s Endangered Properties list.
The tract of land surrounding the former house has been known as “Goodale” since the establishment of the 500-acre plantation in 1740 by Thomas Goodale, who operated the Sand Bar Ferry across the Savannah River, according to Historic Augusta.
The plantation was sold in 1799 to Christopher Fitzsimmons from Charleston, S.C., who apparently built the house.
Many long-time Augustans remember the Goodale Inn Restaurant that was open during the 1970s and 1980s, but since that time the building frequently sat vacant.
In recent years, locals saw the writing on the wall that the Goodale house was likely doomed following the collapse of the structure’s western wall.
Now, Augusta says goodbye to another piece of its own history.
So, who cares, right?
Augustans should care deeply because this is becoming an all-too common pattern here in the Garden City.
Just a few years ago, Historic Augusta announced that the Richmond County Board of Education had demolished the historic Cauley-Wheeler Memorial Building on the Lucy C. Laney High School campus.
The Cauley-Wheeler Memorial Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008 and the building was a significant piece of the school’s history.
Built in 1924, the Cauley-Wheeler building was once a part of the Haines Normal and Industrial School.
“The building is the last remaining structure from the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, a school charted by Lucy Craft Laney in 1886 to educate black children,” according to the Lucy Craft Laney High School Alumni Association’s website. “Most of the school’s buildings were razed when it closed in 1949 to make way for Laney High, but the Cauley-Wheeler building remained, reminding all of the educator’s legacy and history.”
People were shocked that the Board of Education did not try to preserve the building in honor of Lucy Craft Laney, Georgia’s most famous female black educator.
Back in 1883, Laney founded the Haines Normal and Industrial School for the education of black students. By 1912, the Haines Institute employed 34 teachers, enrolled 900 students and offered a fifth year of college preparatory high school.
Some of Haines graduates made their way to Howard, Fisk, Yale and other prestigious universities.
After learning that the Cauley-Wheeler building had been destroyed, representatives of Historic Augusta were left in total disbelief.
Historic Augusta stated the destruction of the Cauley-Wheeler Memorial Building was the first demolition of a building in Richmond County that had been individually designated on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The current expansion of Laney High by the Richmond County Board of Education did not incorporate the historic site into its plan, in spite of its historic designation,” Historic Augusta stated. “Erected in 1924 as a kindergarten, the building was the last permanent structure built under the management of Miss Lucy Craft Laney, leader of the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute.”
In 1949, the Haines Athletic Association leased the campus for 999 years to the Richmond County Board of Education.
“The sad thing about the loss is that the Board of Education could have incorporated the historic building into its expansion plans if there had been the will to do so,” stated Erick Montgomery, executive director of Historic Augusta, Inc. “It would have been an important centerpiece for the education of students at Laney, giving them a tangible connection to their school’s historical significance.”
In an almost laughable suggestion, the Board of Education offered to erect a “replica of the original building” nearby for use by the Haines Alumni Association as a meeting facility.
Of course a replica won’t be eligible for listing in the National Register, as buildings generally must meet a 50-year minimum age requirement.
That suggestion reminded Augustans of the undignified fate that befell the home of novelist Frank Yerby, which languished on Eighth Street before it was donated and moved to Paine College, where it deteriorated to the point it had to be dismantled and unceremoniously rebuilt.
Though Paine called the major renovations a “stunning success,” historians vehemently disagree.
It’s no longer the Yerby House.
It’s a brand new house without any historic significance because Paine College allowed Yerby’s original house to sit there and rot away.
And who can forget last year’s demolition of the old Davidson building on Telfair Street?
The Board of Education allowed the beloved historic structure to sit vacant for almost 20 years and the building ultimately suffered severe water damage and vandalism.
This city’s history is vanishing before our eyes, folks.
Maybe Augusta’s new theme song should be, “Another One Bites the Dust.”