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City seeks to save longtime school teachers home from demo
BOE to city: Move it elsewhere
I-Historic preservation pic1
Plennie Robinsons old home sits dilapidated on the side of Hwy. 9 N. in Dawsonville. The board of education has planned to tear down the home to build a driveway, but city officials want to preserve the home and are currently appraising its value. - photo by Allie Dean Dawson County News

The City of Dawsonville is currently working to save the former home of a prominent local educator from demolition as planned by the Dawson County Board of Education, which has offered to give the home to the city provided they move it to another location.

On Sept. 21, the board of education submitted an application with the city to demolish the home at 534 Hwy. 9 North, near Hightower Academy at the corner of Robinson Road.

The home was once owned by Plennie Robinson, a long-time Dawson educator and sister-in-law to Herbert Robinson, the namesake of Robinson Elementary School, and was purchased by the board of education after Plennie's death.

The board plans to build a driveway to Hightower Academy on the property.

Little did the board know that the city and its recently-established historic preservation commission were in the process of deciding the historic value of the home and surrounding homes on Highway 9 that were built as far back as the 1930s.

When the city received the application, they approved it, also not realizing that the home was one the historic preservation commission was currently looking at for inclusion in a potential new historic district within the city.

Once city council member and Dawsonville Historic Preservation Committee member Angie Smith realized that the demo application was for the Robinson home, she drafted and delivered a letter of intent to the board of education, asking them to halt the demolition so that the city could appraise and potentially purchase the property.

The board of education replied with an email stating they wanted to compromise, giving the city an opportunity to restore the home while adding the driveway as planned.

"The board of education wants to give the structure to the city and allow the city to relocate it for restoration," said Superintendent Damon Gibbs via email. "At that point the only cost the city would incur would be the fee to move it and the restoration."

The board also agreed to give the city until April 1 to have the structure moved.

Though Smith has said she would prefer the structure remain intact on its foundation to preserve its historical context, she decided to go to the city council with the issue and ask for permission to appraise the cost of moving and restoring the home.

The city council voted Nov. 7 to authorize the appraisal of Robinson's former home, which was built in 1948.

According to Smith, the appraisal should be done and brought before the historical preservation commission at its Dec. 19 meeting, and then to the city council for consideration.

Because the historic preservation commission is not a certified local government, they are not eligible for state and federal preservation funds, and therefore the costs of moving and renovating the home would come directly from the council's general fund.

According to Smith, what the city ends up wanting to do with the house all comes down to the numbers.

"I honestly don't know how much it would cost to move a house," Smith said. "If it would cost the city $100,000 to move and renovate it, I would think that would be worth it. But there are three other people on the council and we have to agree. We have to make the decision that makes the most business sense, that gives us a good return.

"I have historical preservation in my heart, but I understand the others might not value it like I do."