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Which historic Columbus area property will win up to $100,000? You can help decide.

Historic Columbus announces finalists for Public Participation Grant

Historic Columbus announced the finalists for the 2019 Public Participation Grant. They need your help to determine the winner. Public voting is open from Sept. 13-20. The finalists are The Stewart Community Home, Zion Church, and The Wynn House.
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Historic Columbus announced the finalists for the 2019 Public Participation Grant. They need your help to determine the winner. Public voting is open from Sept. 13-20. The finalists are The Stewart Community Home, Zion Church, and The Wynn House.

The public is invited to help decide which historic property in the Columbus area will receive as much as $100,000 for renovations.

During a news conference Thursday at its office on Second Avenue, the Historic Columbus Foundation announced the three finalists for its 2019 Public Participation Grant:

  • Stewart Community Home, circa 1929, at 1125 15th St., houses homeless and disabled adults.
  • The Wynn House, circa 1839, at 1240 Wynnton Road, provides space for programs and events.
  • Zion Church, circa 1848, at 425 Washington Ave., in Talbotton, no longer has an active congregation but is used for special services and events.

Online voting will be conducted Sept. 13-20 at HistoricCoumbus.com, where folks can choose their favorite project. The finalists will host a yet-to-be-announced open house at their site in September so the public can learn more about their needs.

The winner will be announced Oct. 22 at the foundation’s annual meeting.

“Our finalists are all significant resources in our region, with projects that strongly impact the future of their historic structures,” said HCF executive director Elizabeth Walden.

Stewart Community Home is seeking $100,000 to pay for new windows that would be historically accurate for the whole facility. It was built as Linwood School, then became Edwina Wood Elementary School in 1962. It transitioned to its current purpose in 1994.

Kara VinZant, the home’s executive director, said it “keeps a lot of people out of the street and keeps a lot of people more healthy than they would it if they were on their own.”

She has a personal stake in the building: Her grandmother attended elementary school there.

“It’s pretty neat to actually be there and be a part of it now,” she said.

The Wynn House is seeking $87,000 to renovate its kitchen, including flooring, cabinetry, counter tops, painting, plumbing and electrical work. The Greek Revival mansion was the home of several prominent Columbus citizens.

Darlene Hughes-Kittrell, executive director of the house, said, “Kitchen is the heart of a home, and we generate the majority of our revenue to preserve The Wynn House from our freezer food sales and the food that we serve the clubs and organizations that meet there. So we need the votes.”

Zion Church is seeking $100,000 to restore its exterior. The most urgent need is to stabilize the bell tower, buttresses and facade. The structure is considered one of America’s most significant wooden Gothic Revival buildings, with Tudor arched windows.

The Episcopal Church of Georgia released the property to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation this year. Then it was deeded to a local friends group, Zion Church Restoration.

Katherine Johnson, chairwoman of the nonprofit organization, said the youth of Talbot County “really don’t have the opportunity for cultural events or for events as far as history and lectures, and we want to bring those things to the Talbotton community and to these kids.”

HCF’s 16-member preservation committee selected the three finalists among eight applicants, said Callie Hecht, the foundation’s cultural outreach director. The application period began in May, she said.

This is the second year the foundation has conducted this grant program. It is expected to run every other year, Hecht said.

The inaugural $100,000 grand-prize winner out of 12 applicants in 2017 was the Springer Opera House, which received 5,742 of the 10,268 online votes, Walden said then. The money was for a new roof, ceiling repairs and mold removal, she said.

The other two finalists in 2017 also received grants: $40,000 for The Wynn House to restore its cupola and replace its roof, and $20,000 for the Liberty Theatre to repair some parts and replace other parts of its roof, she said.

The 2017 voting period lasted one month. The foundation shortened it to a week this year, Hecht said, because most of the votes were cast during the first week.

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.
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