"It was a big honor," said Lawson Hagler, the manager of the rental property and its building project. "We're very fond of Cartersville and to be named the recipient of a historic preservation award was tremendous. ... We're very proud that it's a good fit for Cartersville. I'm somebody that really likes older homes. We're in an antebellum home on the east side of Bartow County.
"I appreciate the older-style homes in the historic district, and it's especially nice to do something that's additive to the city of Cartersville, especially the historic corridor -- to see that area improved. The home that was damaged was a much simpler and more modest home, so this would be considered an improvement."
After the property sat vacant for six months, the building process took about nine months, with construction completed in summer 2010. Considered a one-and-a-half story home, the structure contains four bedrooms and three bathrooms.
"The house had been destroyed [by] a tree that fell in, I think, February of 2009," Hagler said. "It took a few weeks to clean up all the damage, to remove the house from the premises. We hired J.B. Hudson -- [also known as] John Hudson -- of Greatwood Construction and it was John Hudson that helped select some sample designs that he felt would be in keeping with the historic district. We chose a particular design after seeing some model images that he put together.
"He and Pete Alday [Cartersville's director of Community Services] had given us the approval for that design, so I then obtained information from the historic district committee and offices in Cartersville. Then we met with architect Jim Haigler to discuss some interior framework."
The Hagler's residence was one of three properties that were recognized during the Cartersville City Council meeting. The other two were renovated structures -- Margaret Rose White's house at 305 W. Main St. and Specialty Accounting on the corner of Erwin and Main streets. Presented during National Preservation Month, the commercial and residential awards highlighted the importance of preserving and maintaining the architectural integrity of Cartersville's structures for future generations.
"The purpose [of National Preservation Month] is basically for public awareness, to let folks know what historic preservation is and how important it is to maintain some character of the older neighborhoods and maintain our heritage," said Alday, who also serves as the city's support staff for the seven-member Cartersville Historic Preservation Commission. "What we've done in the past as well as this year is we had the proclamation signing and we had the preservation awards.
"We have two [award] categories: commercial and residential. And we go through all the projects for the preceding year, for 2010, and pick out the ones that really made an impact on the property and the neighborhood. ... We want people to understand the heritage here, and in order to preserve the heritage, you have to have a program that recognizes that and promotes that. So that's exactly what the Historic Preservation Commission is trying to do."
Since 2004, the commission has designated five historic districts -- the Downtown Business District and the residential areas of Olde Town, West End, Cherokee-Cassville and Granger Hill. The districts contain a total of 604 properties, some of which date back to the late 1860s.
"We have guidelines that tell you what's appropriate and what's not appropriate for both residential and the downtown business districts. ... Basically when somebody wants to make structural or material alterations to the exterior of their property, they have to apply for a Certificate of Preservation through the Historic Preservation Commission when they're in a historic district," Alday said. "It has nothing to do with the interiors.
"It's basically a view from the streets to make sure that what's being proposed is compatible with the character of the house and the neighborhood, and it has to be visible from the street. If somebody's building a deck on the back of the house that's not visible from the street, it doesn't apply."
In honor of the city's attention to historic preservation, the municipality recently was named a Preserve America Community by first lady Michelle Obama.
According to a news release from the city of Cartersville, "Communities designated through the program receive national recognition for their accomplishments in preserving our special places and telling the nation's story. Benefits include use of the Preserve America logo on educational and promotional materials; a community sign; listing in a Web-based directory that showcases Cartersville's preservation efforts and heritage tourism destinations; and other support.
"Many Preserve America Communities are featured in 'Discover Our Shared Heritage' National Register Travel Itineraries, as well as in the 'Teaching with Historic Places' curricular materials created by the National Park Service. ... The Preserve America program became an authorized part of the national historic preservation program when President Barack Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 on March 30, 2009. More than 850 Preserve America Communities have been designated in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories, including historic neighborhoods within large cities and tribal communities."
Filling the requirement to highlight a project on the Preserve America Community application, representatives from the Bartow History Museum, Cartersville Downtown Development Authority and the Cartersville Historic Preservation Commission, with the Cartersville City Council's support, selected the renovation of the 1869 Courthouse. Now the home of the BHM, the release reports the structure is "believed to be Georgia's last remaining Italianate-style courthouse in existence."
Serving as Bartow's courthouse from 1869 to 1902, the two-story brick building was utilized for a variety of purposes in the 1900s, some of which include a roller skating rink, furniture store and warehouse. Sitting vacant since the 1980s, the building under the Church Street Bridge was acquired by the city of Cartersville in 1995 and was renovated with $1.7 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
Opened in December 2010, the old courthouse houses the BHM's gift shop, multi-purpose room, and permanent and temporary exhibits. Divided into six galleries, the permanent exhibits include "A Sense of Place," "Bartow Beginnings," "Community Champions," "People at Work," "The Coming War" and "Toward New Horizons."