Old First Baptist, Martinez house make list of endangered sites

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation released its 2024 list of 10 Places in Peril, and two local buildings are on it.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 12:22 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation on Wednesday released its 2024 list of 10 Places in Peril, and two are in the CSRA: the old First Baptist Church in Augusta and the Cedar Grove home in Martinez.

Old First Baptist Church

The old First Baptist Church also topped Historic Augusta’s list in late October, with the group labeling the landmark as “imminently imperiled.”

Built in 1902, the birthplace of the Southern Baptist Convention was once home to a congregation that ultimately moved west. Since then, the Beaux-Arts building has been home to other fledgling churches.

The building originally made the endangered list in 2014 and made the “progress” category in 2017 when a rehab was planned.

In 2020, a local real estate figure announced he was renovating the building. But it remains a ghost of its former self at 802 Greene St. in downtown Augusta.

“If action is not taken soon, the structure is at risk of hitting the point of no return,” Historic Augusta said, noting that every time it rains the walls decay a little more.

Local advocates continue to work with the owner to identify opportunities, development partners and financial incentives to save the building.

Cedar Grove

Also on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation list is a house known as Cedar Grove in Martinez.

Named after the cedar trees planted in the front of the home, Cedar Grove, in the 4200 block of Columbia Road, was built in 1851 in the Italianate style.

After the Civil War, it was owned by several prominent residents.

Cedar Grove is in the 4200 block of Columbia Road in Martinez.
Cedar Grove is in the 4200 block of Columbia Road in Martinez.(Contributed)

In 1964, it was brought by Our Savior Episcopal Church, which converted part of the house into a sanctuary. The church hosted community meetings and events there.

From 1970 to 1980, it was Cedar Grove Kindergarten, the first integrated kindergarten program in Columbia County.

Over the decades, the congregation has made use of the property in various ways.

The recent discovery of mold, along with the ongoing costs of maintenance, threaten the building, as the needs and capacity of the congregation have changed, according to the trust.

Advocates hope that raising awareness will help identify a thoughtful approach to its preservation.

About the list

The Places in Peril list is designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance and other factors.

One of its success stories is in the CSRA: Cherry Grove Schoolhouse in Washington, a rare surviving example of an early 20th century rural Black school buildings in Georgia.

Since making the list in 2020, it’s been completely restored and received the trust’s highest preservation award.

Also making this year’s list:

  • Atlanta Constitution Building in Atlanta (Fulton County).
  • Broad Avenue Elementary in Albany (Dougherty County).
  • Church of the Good Shepherd in Thomasville (Thomas County).
  • Grace Baptist Church in Darien (McIntosh County).
  • Hogg Hummock on Sapelo Island (McIntosh County).
  • Pine Log Mountain (Bartow County).
  • Piney Grove Cemetery in Atlanta (Fulton County).
  • Sugar Valley Consolidated School in Sugar Valley (Gordon County).