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In Hoschton, history moves with century-old building

POSTED: January 25, 2009 11:56 p.m.
KATIE DUNN/Times regional staff

Crew members from Loopers House Moving Inc. guide Hoschton's century-old Darby building down First Street. The Hoschton Historical Commission has spent three years and $15,000 to get the building restored and moved from Hoschton's Church of God of Prophecy to the city's Historic Commons area, located off of Ga. 53 near the Hoschton Depot.

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HOSCHTON — The Hoschton Depot no longer will be the only historic building located in Hoschton’s Historic Commons area.

The century-old Darby building was moved last week from the Hoschton Church of God of Prophecy on Ga. 332 to a downtown area behind a playground off of Ga. 53.

Gainesville-based Loopers House Moving Inc. loaded the house on the back of a truck and slowly guided it under power lines and past overhanging trees to its new site near the
Hoschton Depot.

The Hoschton Historical Commission’s five members have spent three years lobbying for a place to move the building. Now that it has a new home, the group will use the $15,000 it has raised to restore the weathered structure.

"It’s been a labor of love really to raise the money to get it done," said commission member Dianne Blankenship. "We have had auctions and we’ve had various fundraisers and generous people have made donations."

No city funds were used to move or restore the Darby building.

Renovations soon will start with help from Sue and Randy Rylee, according to Blankenship.

Even though there are several structural problems to be remedied, Sue Rylee, a general contractor, says the building is in overall good shape.

"This building is extremely strong and in good condition," she said. "We’ve taken them (buildings) way lower than this and made masterpieces out of them."

Rylee has done restorations for more than 27 years and worked on structures at Hurricane Shoals Park in Maysville.

The first steps to repairing the Darby building include placing temporary piers underneath to stabilize it and renovating the wooden sides. In the future, brick piers will support the house and a new roof will be added.

These exterior renovations are expected to take between 60 to 80 days, according to Rylee. The exact timeline depends on the temperature.

"We’ll be trying to repair the exterior surface, getting it scraped and painted (but) some of that will again be permitting on weather."

Blankenship said she hopes exterior renovations will be done by spring. Renovating the interior will depend on how much money the commission has collected.

The Darby building’s history dates back to the early 1900s when it sat next to what is now Little Hootie’s in the city square. The building’s exact age is unknown, but Blankenship estimated it was built in the early 1900s.

"That’s the best we’re guessing," she said. "We have not gone to the courthouse to do research on it."

Blankenship said longtime Hoschton resident Ralph Freeman told her some of the building’s history.

Freeman said Jim Darby first owned the building and ran a business repairing guns and making violins and sewing machine cabinets, which he sold for $25 each.

When Darby died, Ben Frank Wilson rented the building and used it for his bookkeeping and insurance business. At the time, Wilson also served as the city clerk, so council meetings were held in the building, too.

The Darby building’s future use has not been decided, but Blankenship said housing a city museum is one proposal.



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