Local preservationists fight to save a historic landmark

CSRA News

AUGUSTA, G.A. (WJBF)– Cumming Grove Baptist Church is one of the oldest churches in the city of Augusta. Standing for nearly 200 years, people I spoke with today say this building is more than just property, but a crucial part of the city’s history.

“The cornerstone marks the event of all of the hard work that it took to build the building,” said Joyce Law, a local historian.

It’s a piece of history, that could soon be erased.

“Cumming grove represents a very large piece of the puzzle in Augusta’s history,” she said.

Local Historian Joyce Law says Cumming Grove Baptist Church was established back in the mid 1800’s making it the oldest church in Augusta’s Hill area.

Law said, “that significant piece of history needs to be included in order to retain authenticity of our narrative especially for people’s voices would have otherwise been muffled”

But this piece of history could be on its way to being silenced. Cumming Grove made Historic Augusta’s Endangered Properties List last year. Executive Director Erick Montgomery says most of the properties on that list just need funding.

“They have a lot of deferred maintenance issues there, as I understand it and don’t have the funds to address those,” said Erick Montgomery.

Right now the only thing saving that building is a deed from the original owners of the land where the church sits.

Montgomery said “It’s called Cumminng Grove because it was deeded to the church by the Cumming family. The deed says that if it ever ceases to be a church then it reverts back to the family, and even though that’s been close to 150 years ago, it’s still the legal language in the deed.”

NewsChannel 6 was able to track down a direct descendant of the Cumming family. Bryan Haltermann, now the president of Downtown Developers.

“My great great great grandmother who’s name was Julia Bryan Cumming gave the land for that church,” said Bryan Haltermann.

Haltermann says he was initially against the idea of demolishing the landmark.

“But unfortunately the congregation of Cumming Grove didn’t feel they could maintain the building, it’s an older building needed some maintenance, so they wanted to move,” he said.

Haltermann said right now the congregation is looking to move around the corner onto Milledgeville Road.

Cumming grove is not the only historical landmark the Historic Augusta is trying to save.

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