The Midtown-based Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation in a Friday news release announced the public phase of its $1.7 million campaign. The capital campaign is funding the green rehabilitation and restoration of Rhodes Hall, the trust’s headquarters. To date the trust has secured more than $1.5 million in grants and pledges.
Rhodes Hall has been the headquarters for the trust for more than 30 years. Built by Rhodes Furniture Co. founder Amos Giles Rhodes in 1904, this residence served as his home until his death in 1928. His heirs deeded the building to the state subject to the condition that the property “be used by the state of Georgia for historical, as distinguished from ordinary business, purposes.”
Starting in 1930, Rhodes Hall contained the Georgia Archives until they were moved downtown in 1965. Rhodes Hall was then used for storage and other purposes for many years. By 1983 it was in derelict condition. Massive granite blocks were in danger of falling from the exterior walls, which were covered in vines. Plaster was failing and water damage was evident throughout the interior. The stained-glass windows and mahogany staircase had been removed from the building.
In 1983 the trust, then a 10-year-old nonprofit, moved into “the Castle on Peachtree” located at 1516 Peachtree St. Restoration work on the facility began soon after. Since 1985 all of the public spaces on the main floor have all been meticulously restored, including the stained-glass windows, mahogany woodwork, hand-painted walls, parquet flooring and many other architectural features.
The main floor is a popular rental facility and the main venue for the organization’s educational programs. The second and third floors have been rehabilitated into office space for the trust’s operations. The basement contains additional restrooms, storage and workrooms.
The trust plans to implement a sustainable rehabilitation of Rhodes Hall which will feature energy-efficient, state-of-the-art HVAC and insulation systems and many other innovations. This will be achieved alongside a sensitive historic restoration, providing a modern model for the stewardship of historic buildings.
The trust recently completed the first stage of Rhodes Hall’s “greening” by installing more efficient HVAC systems on the main and second floors and more effective insulation systems in the basement and attic.
The trust also created office space on the fourth floor in the tower. Work included plaster restoration, furniture refinishing, repainting and floor refinishing.
Before restoration work began, leaks in Rhodes Hall’s extensive roof were damaging the porch and porte cochere ceilings. Roof repairs are now 95 percent complete. Porch ceiling repairs are now under way. Decorative pressed tin panels have been removed and taken off site where they will be sanded, repainted and reinstalled once the porch roof work is finished.
Future plans include restoring Rhodes Hall’s 111 historic windows, repairing exterior wood trim and granite, implementing a grounds use and maintenance plan that considers sustainability, Rhodes Hall’s historic landscape plan and the functional needs of the facility and upgrading bathrooms, catering kitchen, sleeping porch and work stations.
For more information, call (404) 885-7800 or visit www.rhodeshall.org or www.georgiatrust.org.