“The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
- William James, Father of American psychology and philosopher
In the mid-1990s, I was lucky to be part of a task force that the United States Department of Energy put together. We were given a unique charge: travel to the Hanford Nuclear Site, which was being decommissioned, and determine which buildings, artifacts, and documents should be curated for future historians. It was one of the most interesting cross-disciplinary groups I ever worked with: nuclear physicists, historians of science, curators like me, and others.
I’ll never forget visiting B Reactor, where the first plutonium bomb (later dropped on Nagasaki) was made. All of the WWII-era control surfaces in the reactor were intact. We interviewed two gentlemen who had been directly involved when the reactor pile went critical in September 1944. One was a DuPont engineer, and the other had been a young physicist who came out west as a student of Enrico Fermi’s at the University of Chicago. They told the story of the then-ongoing debate between the DuPont engineers and the University of Chicago crowd. The subject of the debate was moderating the fission reaction, which was accomplished using rods inserted into the reactor core.
Inserting the rods fully causes the core to go into a subcritical state. Pulling the rods out induces the core to go critical — fission is taking place. The DuPont engineers considered Fermi’s physicists to be stuffy, academic, and risk-averse because they wanted to move the control rods in very small increments. The Chicago crowd considered the DuPont engineers to be somewhat cavalier about moderating the chain reaction with the rods, because they were of a mind to pull the rods out in much larger increments. It was darkly-humorous to listen to these two gentlemen relate this bit of oral history and reflect on what the end of World War II would have looked like had the B Reactor pile experienced what I learned is called a “criticality excursion,” or what we today call a meltdown.
It was also enlightening, because it prompted me to try and put myself in the shoes of someone writing history 100 years in the future. What would be the most important source materials, artifacts, and buildings for them to have access to?
As historic preservationists, we are sometimes (erroneously) tagged with phrases like “always looking back,” or “obsessed with old buildings.” It’s easy to see why this misconception might persist. Oftentimes, our efforts only make the news when there is open conflict, often between a developer and local preservationists. Unfortunately, the quiet, tenacious work that we do day in and day out behind the scenes to preserve our most valuable historic resources often doesn’t make for good headlines — especially in today’s hyper-saturated, 24/7 media world.
I like to tell folks who don’t know about historic preservation (and whose views are all too often shaped by conflict-oriented headlines) that, in fact, historic preservationists actually are looking forward — just as the Hanford Task Force did. If we’re doing our job right, we are trying to envision which historic properties, be they buildings, structures, landscapes, or archaeological sites, Georgia citizens will want to have around 100 years or more in the future.
In short, we are living out William James’ words.
by: Jeff Harrison, firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Affairs Coordinator
Georgia’s agricultural history is as rich as the soil that made it possible.
Our state’s history has long been connected to developing agriculture; and farms hold a central role in the heritage of Georgia, forming the economic, cultural, and family foundation for generations of residents.
Still today, though several generations removed, thousands of Georgians can trace their family history back to a farm or farming home place. And in some cases, families still live on, or even farm, these historic properties.
In recognition of the important role farms have played in Georgia’s history, the Georgia Historic Preservation Division (HPD) annually recognizes farms that have operated continuously for 100 years or more.
These farms earn the title “Georgia Centennial Farm.”
The Georgia Centennial Farm Program was developed in 1993, and has recognized more than 500 farms around the state. It is administered by HPD, in a partnership with the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation; Georgia Department of Agriculture; Georgia Forestry Commission; and the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter. It is sponsored, in part, by Georgia EMC and the Georgia Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee.
The program recognizes farms in one of three categories:
- The Centennial Heritage Farm Award honors farms owned by members of the same family for 100 years or more that are also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Centennial Family Farm Award recognizes farms owned by members of the same family for 100 years or more that are not listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Centennial Farm Award does not require continual family ownership, but farms must be at least 100 years old and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Each year, qualifying farms are recognized at opening day of the Georgia National Fair in Perry. During the awards presentation, farm owners receive a Georgia Centennial Farm certificate of honor signed by the governor.
HOW TO APPLY
Applications to apply for Centennial Farm recognition are now available on HPD’s website! Completed applications must be postmarked by May 1st of the award year in order to qualify for the current Centennial Farm awards.
To qualify, your farm must be a working farm with a minimum of 10 acres actively involved in agricultural production, and produce $1,000 in annual farm-generated income. The farm must retain at least 10 acres of the original farm purchase.
Complete details can be found on the 2017 Centennial Farm Application.
by: Kayla Morris, email@example.com
African American Programs, Intern
In the years immediately following the Civil War, a neighborhood that would come to be known as Dixville was established in Brunswick, Ga., catering to planters from St. Simons Island displaced by the war.
The planters, many of whom were supporters of the Confederacy, named their community “Dixieville,” and named the streets for Confederate leaders: Stonewall, Lee, Gordon, Johnston, Bartow, Cleburne, and Davis.
Quite ironically, this neighborhood built on the premise of the revitalization of the South would eventually transition into an African American neighborhood. By 1889, the name of the community was referred to as “Dixville” rather than “Dixieville.”
In the late 1880s, many of the residents of Dixville had migrated to other cities, and African Americans began to move into the neighborhood. According to information gathered from censuses of the time, most residents were of the working class. Many residents held positions such as housemaid, laborer, and carpenter. In the early stages of Dixville, there were residents who were both black and white - the majority of whites were immigrants - living in the area.
A few of the whites who lived on the outskirts of the neighborhood owned businesses that Dixville residents patronized; but in census records starting in 1930 (many of the census reports prior to this year only labeled wards not street names) it is difficult to determine if white residents actually inhabited Dixville at the start of the 20th century. If Dixville was a multicultural neighborhood, it would have been similar to many areas throughout the country. Prior to Jim Crow being enacted in the early 1900s, blacks and whites often shared neighborhoods.
Dixville was home to former slave and engineer, Dan Hopkins. Born in 1853, Dan Hopkins was an enslaved African American who was owned by Robert Church of Cumberland Island. Following the death of Robert Church's widow, Rachel Clubb Church, Hopkins was emancipated, at fifteen years old. Hopkins used his seamanship skills to attain work as a deck hand, and eventually an engineer, on steamers that traveled between Brunswick, Cumberland Island, St. Simons Island, and McIntosh County. Becoming an engineer on steamers in Coastal Georgia was an impressive feat for an African American at the time, and should be recognized as such when the City of Brunswick begins to delve into the history of the Dixville neighborhood. Though Hopkins’ home is no longer extant, it was located at 912 Stonewall Street; his story was discovered in Margaret Davis Cate’s “Early Days of Coastal Georgia.”
Currently, the City of Brunswick is working to make Dixville a historic district on the basis of its diverse past. The Dixville Coalition (a community organization) has pushed for a National Register Historic District nomination since Quatrefoil Consulting completed a Historic Resources Survey Report of the area in October 2008. The hope of the Dixville Coalition is that designating Dixville as a historic district would create opportunities to utilize tax credits that encourage property owners to rehabilitate their properties. Many of the structures in the neighborhood are not 19th century constructions, as the Hurricane of 1898 destroyed many houses. Most of the structures were built after 1900, and are Hall-Parlor, Shotgun, Georgian Cottages, Gable-Ell Cottages, Side Hallway Cottages, and Post World War II.
Georgia HPD is currently accepting applications for a Review Archaeologist position, to be based out of Panola Mountain State Park, in Stockbridge, Ga. The position serves as the Section 106 review and compliance archaeologist within the Archaeology, Education, and Outreach Section of Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division. Duties include the review of National Historic Preservation Act compliance documentation regarding eligibility effects to archaeological resources and triaging projects by due date to meet federally mandated review periods. See Page 6 of the DNR Vacancy Announcement.
The February 2017 issue of Reflections, a publication of the Georgia African American Historic Preservation Network (GAAHPN) that features stories about African American communities and historic resources in Georgia, is now available!
March 2017 - National Register Review Board Meeting - Atlanta
The Georgia Historic Preservation Division (HPD) is hosting its semi-annual meeting of the Georgia National Register Review Board on Friday, March 3, 2017. The meeting will be held in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Boardroom, located in the East Tower of the James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Building, at 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in downtown Atlanta. The complete agenda, short summaries of each proposed nomination, and other details can be found on HPD’s website. The meeting is open to the public. If you plan to attend, please contact Lynn Speno, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 2017 - Phoenix Flies - Atlanta
The Atlanta Preservation Center (APC) will present the 14th Phoenix Flies: A Celebration of Atlanta’s Historic Sites March 4-26, 2017. With more than 90 Preservation Partners, this award-winning celebration gives a fun and informative experience of Atlanta’s history through more than 100 events, including guided walking tours, lectures and storytelling, open houses and much more. All events are free to the public; reservations may be required for some events. Follow the APC website for updates.
May 2017 - Statewide Historic Preservation Conference - Madison
The Georgia Historic Preservation Division (HPD) is happy to announce the return of the Statewide Historic Preservation Conference! The Historic Preservation Division, in partnership with the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Georgia Alliance of Preservation Commissions, and the City of Madison, invites you to Madison for the 2017 Statewide Historic Preservation Conference, May 18-20.
This conference brings together preservationists, architects, architectural historians, archaeologists, city and county administrators, city and county council members, genealogists, historians, historic preservation commissioners, and planning and preservation students from across Georgia for two days of informative presentations, interactive field sessions, and unique networking opportunities. For additional information, visit the 2017 Statewide Conference website.
Would you like to see an event listed? Email email@example.com
Submit a Guest Article
Preservation Posts is published to inform the public about historic preservation issues and developments from the perspective of the SHPO. In keeping with that purpose, HPD has inaugurated a policy of occasionally soliciting guest articles that are directly related to our statutorily mandated programs. Please note that we do not publish opinion pieces. We also retain editorial control as well as the right to reject any submission.
To pitch or submit a piece, or ask questions concerning an idea, email HPD Public Affairs Coordinator Jeff Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.