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Rock House listed as Place in Peril

A spotlight on the Rock House by the Georgia Trust brought about 75 local residents and members of the Ansley Family to the Rock House Saturday afternoon.

"We are so appreciative for the work you've done to save this house," McDuffie County IT Director Kelly Evans said in her welcoming speech. "I'm fascinated by the fact that we sit here today at the crossroads of 250 years of history."

Constructed of 24-inch thick field stones and built in the 1780s, the two-story structure is recognized as the oldest surviving stone house in Georgia. It was constructed by Thomas Ansley, who moved into Wrightsboro with the Quakers. The house remained privately owned until 1966, when the Wrightsboro Quaker Community Foundation purchased and restored it.

Now vacant and unstaffed, the historical structure is isolated on a dirt road in rural McDuffie County with no occupied houses near it. Vandalism and a lack of funding for maintenance have added to the overall threat of the Rock House, thus earning it a spot on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's list of Places in Peril.

Mark McDonald, the president and CEO of the Georgia Trust, said only 10 sites were selected for this year's list out of 37 applicants.

"It's a competition to get on the list," he said. "These aren't 10 of the most important sites, or the 10 most threatened sites; but, the 10 that show themes of history that we feel are important to Georgia's history and that show strong community support."

Even though it is more than 200 years old, Mr. McDonald said the Rock House's threat is not in it's condition, but in its isolated location and vandalism.

Georgia Trust's Field Services Manager Jordan Poole said he hopes to engage the community to come up with ideas for educating the local young people on the importance of the structure, in hopes of cutting back on the vandalism. Ideas for security measures also will be sought, and Mr. Poole will help write grants for funds.

"We are so glad for you wanting to help preserve it," Judy Candler told the audience Saturday. "Because it is truly a thing of beauty to us. We're so proud Thomas Ansley saw fit to come to this area and hope you can help us save it."

The other places in Georgia that made the Places in Peril list include: Mary Ray Memorial School, Newnan-Coweta County, Crum & Forster Building, Atlanta, Campbell Chapel AME Church, Americus, Fort Daniel, Buford, Metcalf Township, Thomas County, Battery Backus, Tybee Island, Sallie Davis House, Milledgeville, John Berrien House, Savannah, and Bibb Mill, Columbus.

Web posted on Thursday, April 30, 2009

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