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Historic Savannah Foundation
A comprehensive architectural inventory of buildings within the Landmark District was completed in 1962. More than 1,100 structures were mapped and professionally evaluated for their architectural significance. Using the inventory as a guide, selected buildings were purchased in areas where the concentration was large enough to provide a significant impact. The foundation does not restore buildings but transfers buildings to owners who are willing to restore according to the covenants attached to the deed.
A bank consortium was formed to make loans to the foundation for property purchases. This revolving fund was replenished by fund-raising efforts, membership dues, and reinvestment of proceeds from property sales. The foundation stretched its limited funds by selective purchasing and the use of options. In the mid-1960s, using only $38,000 of seed money from its revolving fund for option purchase, the foundation created $1 million in reinvestment in the thirteen-acre Pulaski Square–West Jones Street project area. The project received national attention. The revolving fund continues to be the foundation's primary preservation program.
Recognizing that Savannah
In 1966 the area containing Oglethorpe's original city plan was designated a National Historic Landmark District. In 1968 the city of Savannah and the foundation succeeded in convincing the state legislature to pass an amendment to the Georgia constitution authorizing historic zoning in Savannah. The Historic Review Board was established in 1973, ushering in a new era of regulated development within the historic district.
In 1979 the foundation
At the same time that the foundation was expanding its revolving fund to the Victorian District, a decision was made to restore the Regency-style Scarbrough House, which was designed by the English architect William Jay in 1818. The structure, located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, became the foundation's headquarters in 1976 and drew attention to the western portion of the historic district. Upon completion of the Scarbrough House restoration, the foundation shifted its attention to Broughton Street, the downtown commercial corridor. Subsequently, the city formed a development authority that makes facade renovation loans along the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Broughton Street corridors.
In 1998 the National Trust for Historic Preservation held its annual conference in Savannah to showcase the preservation accomplishments of the thirty years since its previous meeting in Savannah in 1968. New initiatives in the twenty-first century have focused on streetscapes and other urban livability issues.
"Historic Preservation in Georgia on the 30th Anniversary of the State Historic Preservation Offices, 1969-1999," Georgia Historical Quarterly 83 (spring 1999).
Beth Reiter, Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission
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