Continuing long-standing efforts to preserve the historic Wallis House, Georgia lawmakers have again introduced federal legislation that would annex the house and its neighboring eight acres into Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
U. S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk introduced HR-3371 into the House of Representatives on July 29. The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Earl Carter and Lynn Westmoreland. Sen. Johnny Isakson introduced S-1930 in the Senate on August 11, with Sen. David Perdue as a co-sponsor. These bills renew the efforts of Sen. Isakson and former Rep. Phil Gingrey to obtain Congressional authorization to add the land to the park. The property is owned by Cobb County, which has agreed to transfer it to the National Park Service at no acquisition cost if the legislation is passed and signed. Restoration costs, early estimates of which are $800,000, will be the principal costs associated with the project. It is possible that private funding will be sought for some of these costs.
The Wallis House, built c. 1853 by Josiah Wallis, has been a Preservation Priority for CLHS for several years. CLHS Chair Abbie Parks wrote to House and Senate Committee members in 2014 urging them to support earlier versions of the legislation, but the bills did not get passed by the full chambers in the last Congress. Executive Director Trevor Beemon wrote to the legislators earlier in 2015 encouraging them to reintroduce the bills.
The bills have been read and referred to their respective committees, which must pass them for the bills to reach the floor for full chamber votes. Bills to save individual landmarks are routinely passed in each session of Congress, and here’s hoping that the current session will be the one where the hopes and plans for the Wallis House are realized.
Written by Chris Brown
The Marietta Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is continuing its efforts to designate a Forest Hills local historic district, and it has recently received City Council approval to begin the study process for a Church-Cherokee-Freyer-Seminole district.
Each project requires extensive research about the neighborhoods, drafting and approval of design guidelines, several public hearings and City Council approvals, and a neighborhood property owner vote. A 60% affirmative vote is required to designate a district.
The Forest Hills study area principally includes Forest and North Forest Avenues and Vance Circle, and it also includes the historic Cole house that faces the 120 Loop. The study area currently includes about 50 houses, and the next step for the HPC is to delineate the boundaries of the area that will be included in the property owner vote.
The Church-Cherokee study area is larger, beginning with about 120 houses. On August 12 the City Council approved the HPC’s request to begin the project, following homeowner requests that were in part related to potential development of the Ivy Grove estate on Cherokee Street. The fact that, under present rules, the Ivy Grove mansion could be demolished without any reviews or approvals was an eye-opener for many neighbors.
A local historic district would require HPC and City Council approval before demolition of a historic house, and it would also require HPC review of architectural plans before new construction could begin.
HPC Chair David Freedman estimates the process will take at least six to eight months to complete. Educating homeowners about the protections afforded by a local historic district is scheduled to begin in early September. The homeowner vote, which will be run by the City staff, will likely be held early next year.
If approved by homeowners and the City Council, these historic districts would join the Kennesaw Avenue district in protecting the integrity of Marietta’s historic neighborhoods.
Written by Chris Brown
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society