North Augusta group works to restore historic building, looks toward future
A local group in North Augusta has been working in recent months to restore the Society House, a historic building that has been used for many purposes, including a school, a meeting place for masons and a funeral parlor.
Historic North Augusta held a meeting Wednesday evening in the Society House on Barton Road, a remnant of the former city of Hamburg, and presented one of the newest windows that has been installed during the restoration of the historic building.
Clara Lamback grew up in North Augusta and went to school in the Society House. She now lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and donated funds for one of the windows.
Lamback was in town for the meeting and said she lived on the same street as the society building and attended fifth grade there during the school year of 1950-51. She said the bottom floor of the building was split into two rooms: one with the fifth grade and one for grades first through third.
Lamback said attending the school was a “great, great, rich experience and I think we all turned out well.”
She also mentioned the building was used as a lodge for the Masons, and said when they had initiations, they could sit outside and hear the rumblings from the ceremony.
The window is one of 12 that have been donated. The building has a total of are 22 windows.
Andy Barnes, Don Maxwell and Mark Newell of Historic North Augusta all work around four hours per day on the building’s restoration.
Newell said many residents in the city got their first education in the building, and through Lamback and other residents, they have been able to picture what the interior of the building looked like and how it was set up.
“That gives us a lot of guidelines as to how we return it to its original condition,” he said
Historic North Augusta would like to be able to use the first floor as a meeting space, as well as a educational museum about the history of Hamburg.
In addition to the Society Building, Historic North Augusta wants to be able to apply for and receive grants for other projects “on tap.” The group has a meeting planned for the end of this month with city leaders and a representative from the state historic preservation office to try to get certified local government status, according to Barnes, who is president of Historic North Augusta.
Newell said Historic North Augusta would like to incorporate the history of the city into the future of the city.
“The visible history of this city is constantly in our faces when we drive up Georgia Avenue to see the big white buildings and stuff; we don’t see buildings like this, this is why they disappear,” Newell said. “If we don’t work to bring them into the public consciousness and restore them, they’ll be lost. When we lose a building like this, all of the memories and the history that go with it, that gets lost too. So this is a very important part of this community.”
“History isn’t just history, history can be money,” he said. “There is economic value in history if it’s developed. We’ve got such a unique history, it’s a shame the city isn’t actively promoting it, developing it and making it contribute to our economy and the character of the city.”
Other window contributors include: Eileen Chaplin Boynton, William Skinner Boynton, Lawrence Carlton Canipe, Lawrence Carlton Canipe Jr., James Hinton, Optimist Club of North Augusta, Milledge Murray, Michael Lamar (Lamar’s Fabrication Inc), Douglas A. Berry, Joe Canada and North Augusta Heritage Council.