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Rock House could be tourist destination

To the editor:

I recently dropped in on the Rock House and I will use one word to describe my visit -- appalling!

I don't like to throw stones, but from the looks of things someone has already been at it. It was late on a weekday and the yard gate, doors and shutters were wide open. Nearly all the windows were destroyed, allowing rain inside. I found glass, scattered trash and debris in the fireplaces and I was doubly alarmed to find melted candle wax in a large puddle in the center of the floor in one room. The pavilions office and restroom were in shambles.

As a lover of history and antiquities I take great interest in seeing treasures given new life and new purpose and the Rock House in my opinion could be a crowning jewel. Standing there I felt as if it were thrown away as a useless and trivial piece of stone and mortar during a time when McDuffie County leaders are reportedly celebrating a progressive new multimillion-dollar courthouse with its impressively expensive fountain and how it will usher in a new era of prosperity.

Can no one see the value to the local economy this property could have and would have if given an opportunity? It is well known that many of the top tourism locations are historical, the National Mall, Colonial Williamsburg, Boston's Faneuil Hall and more. History sells and is ageless in its appeal to the public. Our region including Augusta/North Augusta is becoming a fine example of utilizing history and historic preservation in its marketing/tourism and hometown appeal. People like to live, shop and visit in communities where people take pride in their history and historic buildings.

Even though its widely photographed, to my knowledge the Rock House has never actually been promoted as a tourist destination; there are no identifying or directional signs, I-20 signage, no on-site story boards, brochures or maps, historical festivals or public events. I could not find any information of an organized effort by its owners, the Wrightsboro Foundation, to create a meaningful plan for its current or future use and care but I did discover sporadic efforts to raise funds throughout the years to repair the damage from re-occurring vandalism. I also found that it had been listed on Places in Peril by the Georgia Trust, not a very good recommendation.

The Rock House could be a major educational and tourism asset to McDuffie County and an impressive complement to Hickory Hill and its historical era.

It's not widely known but the Rock House is older than previously believed. There is recent evidence suggesting it's a 1750s Colonial era structure and operated as a Indian trading post. That, folks, is 260-plus years. Can you fathom the significance of a surviving Colonial structure in the boonies of McDuffie County and the archaeological treasure trove in its ground? (Think of the recent dig at Camp Lawton.)

Yet, the link of the Rock House to the early Quaker Wrightsbrough Township and to former President Jimmy Carter's ancestry and the Ansley connection to Elijah Clark, the Battle of Kettle Creek and the Hornets Nest legend in Georgia's history have all the drama, history, romance and passion that should have sealed this buildings fate as a well loved, a well protected, promoted and marketed piece of historical treasure for future generations, but, alas, it is not so. Sadly, the only fate facing this truly incredible structure and its future is nothing but ruin if sure and swift action is not taken immediately to protect it!

This letter to you is just a small effort to encourage a public outcry for action. Let your voice be heard to whoever will listen and perhaps someone or some organization with vision, a can-do attitude and resources may step up to save it and bring it to full measure as a showplace of priceless educational learning and enjoyment by its adoring fans. This building is a national treasure and its importance is not just limited to the people of McDuffie but also to Warren and Wilkes counties and their history and ancestry.

I strongly urge that the Rock House property be made secure by locking it and boarding it up until its day of resurrection and restoration. ...


Robin. W. Johnson, Cadley, Ga.

A Rock House Fan >

Web posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011

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