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Gainesville, Dahlonega receive grants to help preserve history
Von Rogers, secretary for the Baptist Student Center on Park Street in Dahlonega, points out renovations that were made to the 19th century building. Dahlonega and Gainesville are among 10 communities across the state to receive grants for historic preservation. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Gainesville and Dahlonega are on their way to preserving pieces of history after receiving federal historical preservation grants.

Special Projects Manager Jessica Tullar said Gainesville will use its $18,000 grant for the fourth phase of its historical resources structural survey.

"This is our fourth from the state, so that’s pretty exciting to continue to get grant funding. I think that means the city of Gainesville is doing something right," Tullar said.

Tullar said that the city worked with a local contractor in 2006 to conduct a "windshield survey" to identify possible historical sites.

After the results were collected, more detailed studies followed.

"We have somebody from a preservation consulting firm come in and say ‘this house was built approximately this date, it’s this architecture style or building type and this is how it fits in to the development of Gainesville.’"

This is the fourth time Gainesville has received grant money to help offset the costs of historical surveys. The budget for the fourth phase is $31,500 and the grant money will cover 60 percent of the cost.

Tullar said there likely will be five phases.

"It all depends on whether we’ll get more grant funding," Tullar said. "With phase four we will be near the finish line but not fully complete. We’re hopeful we could do it in one more phase."

The fourth phase will focus on surveying properties in the Fair Street neighborhood planning unit area, Riverside Drive, and possibly Washington Street and West Avenue area.

Dahlonega hopes to use grant money to establish a historical district.

Downtown Development Authority Director Joel Cordle said one of the city’s priorities is to use its $6,600 grant to formalize the Park Street neighborhood as a historical district.

Cordle said the street remains about 95 percent residential.

"It’s one of the oldest most historic residential neighborhoods," he said.

Cordle hopes the area will be of interest to tourists who visit Dahlonega’s downtown, which already has the designation.

"It’ll help us emphasize our local history and attract visitors," Cordle said.

Homeowners will benefit from the designation as well.

"Once the district is established, property owners can actually access some financial incentives to help repair and maintain," Cordle said. "They can get income tax credits as well as property tax freezes."

One of the historical homes on Park Street now houses North Georgia College & State University’s Baptist Student Center. The ornate white house was built in 1886.

"It’s looks like a residence on the outside, but we’re able to multiuse it," said Von Rogers, the organization’s secretary. "I think we’ve done well to keep it beautiful and keep its historic appeal."

Historical buildings typically are at least 50 years old.

"That’s not the only criteria," Tullar said.

Buildings could also be placed on the National Register of Historic Places based on architecture, rarity or significance.

"We get an idea of a story of how the city has been developing and who has contributed to that development and what resources we have in terms of architecture," Tullar said.

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