BARTOW BIO — Historic preservation: Goss leaves mark on the future by restoring the past
by Jessica Loeding
May 07, 2012 | 3519 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Goss Jr. stands in front of the 1869 Bartow County Courthouse, one of the buildings he has restored in Cartersville.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Ron Goss Jr. stands in front of the 1869 Bartow County Courthouse, one of the buildings he has restored in Cartersville. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
The state this month marks Georgia Preservation Month with the theme "Discovering Georgia's Hidden Gems." In the preservation world, Cartersville is home to a true gem -- Ron Goss Jr.

Goss, a commercial contractor, historic preservationist and consultant, just this week was elected to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Board of Trustees. He earned the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's Excellence in Rehabilitation Award in 2000, 2008, 2010 and 2012, and in 2009 he received the Georgia Municipal Association's Renaissance Award.

His passions lie in downtowns, historic buildings and baseball fields, and with each property he preserves, Goss secures a place for his children's future.

Name: Ron Goss Jr.

Age: 44

City of Residence: Cartersville

Occupation: Pennant Construction Management (commercial contractor, historic preservationist and consultant)

Family: Married to Lorie Tidwell Goss; children Michael, 17, a senior at Cartersville High; Lauren, 14, an eighth-grader at Cartersville Middle; and Cal, 8, a second-grader at Excel Christian.

Education: Cartersville High School (1986), bachelor's in business from Lee University (1991)

How did you become involved in restoring properties?

A: In 1997, I owned a real estate appraisal and consulting company that was experiencing growth. When the decision was made to purchase an office, there was only one place I wanted to be and that was downtown. My father had an office downtown in the early 1970s, and for a brief period, I lived in a historic home that is now the site of the Frank Moore administrative building.

I purchased 103 W. Main St. and began renovations for our offices. Before the project was finished, I had purchased the adjacent building from Rev. James Black and the Bradley Building on Public Square. The experience led to the sale of the appraisal business, a career change and many wonderful experiences in addition.

I have the opportunity to share my passion for downtowns and preservation numerous times a year speaking for organizations such as the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and get to visit downtowns around the state on annual tours with the Georgia Cities Foundation. Recently, I was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation where I can become deeper involved in my love of preservation and Georgia's downtowns.

How many projects have you worked on and which are you most proud of?

A: Over the past decade I have worked on approximately 40 projects throughout north Georgia for clients as well as our own development company. Regardless if it is new construction or a historic project, I always select projects that I know I will enjoy.

I am most proud of the projects that I see others enjoying as well and those where memories will be made. When I see a business such as Steps of Faith Dance Studio advertising a performance, there is a sense of pride in that I had the opportunity to be a small part of that business on the construction end. When the Bartow History Museum (1869 Bartow County Courthouse) and Calhoun's Historic Gem Theatre opened, I stood to the side and watched as people made comments and become entranced with the facilities. It is nice to have a job with some lasting purpose.

You also work closely with the City of Euharlee. How did you become involved in government role?

A: I give thanks first to the city of Cartersville who gave me several opportunities to manage projects for them, which was my introduction to the inside of local government. Euharlee City Manager Trish Sullivan inquired if I would be interested in helping on a contract basis with planning and zoning for the city due to my background in historic preservation, commercial development and residential valuation. I took the opportunity as a learning experience in an effort to expand my understanding of the operations of city government.

A second role as the cities project manager soon followed, and I am currently assisting as Euharlee Planning and Zoning administrator and as special project manager, which includes overseeing the construction of the Joe Cowan Park Recreation Complex, the redevelopment of the historic Lowry Mill and with a walking trail system near the covered bridge. It has been a great experience over the past three years as many wonderful people call Euharlee home. The city's natural and historic resources are a major asset to Bartow County.

If you could restore any property, which would it be and what would the final result be?

A: There is no absolute answer to this question in that every time I go into a historic downtown I get inspired and "find something to do." In Cartersville, it would be the Scheuer's/Lay's Building on the corner of Main Street and Public Square or the First National Bank Building at Main Street and Erwin. It would be great to restore the two buildings to their original glory, including reinstating such architectural features as marble columns and turrets that have been removed over time.

The end result would include one incredible loft on the second floor for the Goss family. A loft would be convenient since Lorie and I enjoy walking around downtown in the evening for exercise and "sanity."

During your restoration projects, what was the most interesting item you have unearthed?

A: I have uncovered a number of items in crawl spaces and attics ranging from early Coca-Cola, NuGrape Soda and Royal Crown Bottles to a 1950s Coke machine and even old exterior signs from Cartersville's historic past. My favorite sign is the 1940s neon "Peters Shoes/Stein's" sign that I see in a wide number of historic downtown photos.

The most useful discovery was unearthed while grading in the foundation of the 1869 Bartow County Courthouse. The original slate roofing and components of the original grand staircases were found buried under the building. This not only helped in the understanding of what the building was like when new, but also what materials to use during the renovation to be historically accurate.

What would your dream job be?

A: Fortunately, I enjoy a dream job, and because I wear so many hats, it is a different job each day.

However, if I had to select another it would be the curator of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. A second passion is baseball and one of my great appreciations of the game is its history and I enjoy collecting memorabilia. The facility is an incredible tour through the chronicles of baseball and in one of the most picturesque small cities in America.

I am an avid baseball fan and enjoy spending my time around the game especially with my children. I coach my youngest son, Cal, and the greatest eight-year-old Little League team in Cartersville. My daughter, Lauren, hits the field with the Lady Canes at Cartersville Middle, and I am in the midst of cheering on my oldest son and the Cartersville High Purple Hurricanes as they make a state playoff run. Next year the enjoyment will step up a notch as Michael takes the field at Samford University in Birmingham.

Back to the dream job, the Cooperstown gig would be an incredible experience but the commute might be an issue. I am not leaving Cartersville.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

A: I am a Christmas baby, and when I have to give a date of birth, it typically evokes a conversation. I am often asked if I like having a Christmas birthday. My response is that it is the only birthday I know. As a child, Christmas Day ran its course until a certain point when it became birthday-only complete with birthday cake and birthday wrapping paper. My parents were always great to make sure I was not left out.

To this day all of my family still enjoys two celebrations -- Christmas and Ron's birthday -- on Dec. 25. I share the birthday with my good friend Sean McDermott who I always speak to on Christmas morning to wish each other a happy birthday. Christmas babies are in a special fraternity.

What makes Bartow County special?

A: It is my home, my history and my future. I can run into a friend on the sidewalk and share laughs from our childhood. I constantly find beautiful areas of our county that I have never before seen. Joe and Betty Jane Tilley invited me recently to their home to enjoy beautiful Tilley Mill on the Euharlee Creek that I never knew existed.

In Bartow County, I have coached a child when they were 6 years old and watched them graduate high school at 18. I have shared with my children some of the same educators in the school system, which makes for a great experience and humorous stories. Cartersville and Bartow County is the atmosphere that I want to raise my children in, and it has endless opportunities in the future for family and my business.

What is your favorite meal?

A: No doubt chicken parmesan from Antonino's in downtown Cartersville. Antonino's recently replaced a "big chain" restaurant as number one on my list. Thanks to Joe and Brook Harris who helped us rediscover a great Cartersville eatery.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things could you not live without?

A: There would be four basic necessities, Lorie and my three children. But if they were not available, an old swing, a glass of iced tea and the newspaper would help pass the time. A daily delivery of the Tribune would be a must, but never on Monday.