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Vandals break windows at Rock House

After a two-year reprieve from vandals, the Rock House has been hit once again. Damages were discovered sometime between last Thursday and Friday that included broken windows and the historical marker being broken off its pole.

The crime is being investigated by the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department.

"It can be repaired, and it doesn't affect the historical significance of the house," said Hazel Mobley, the president of the Wrightsboro Foundation, which owns the property.

Over the years, vandalism and a lack of funding for maintenance have added to the overall threat to the Rock House. In 2007, the Watson-Brown Foundation Junior Board issued an emergency grant for the repair of windows, historic sashes and doors. The next year, there were several incidents of graffiti and destruction to restroom facilities. Security cameras were stolen not long after they were installed.

In 2008, the Wrightsboro Foundation worked with One Stop and used stimulus money to hire security guards who stayed on the property around the clock. The vandalism stopped.

In 2009, the Rock House was placed third on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's list of 10 Places in Peril . Status on the list provides preservation assistance to significant historical property threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance and insensitive public policy.

But the stimulus funds and preservation assistance ran out and the Rock House has been unstaffed since the beginning of 2010.

"But we didn't want to advertise that," Mrs. Mobley said. "Because we knew what would happen." When the most recent vandalism occurred, Mrs. Mobley said Wrightsboro Foundation members called an emergency meeting last week, and "things are going to change. They have to." She said they are planning to have someone living on the property at all times.

The house was being cleaned and repaired Monday to prepare it for school field trips that are scheduled throughout the month of April.

Built in the 1870s, the Rock House is the oldest documented stone house in Georgia with its original design intact. Built by Thomas Ansley, the house is typical of the New Jersey area from which the Quakers, who settled in Wrightsboro, came.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call the sheriff's department at 706-595-2040.

Web posted on Thursday, April 01, 2010

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