COVINGTON -- The Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has announced that the city of Social Circle and the city of Porterdale have become Georgia's 84th and 85th Certified Local Governments, respectively. The National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, confirmed the designations in December.
Social Circle passed a local historic preservation ordinance in 2004 and has an appointed citizen board serving as its historic preservation commission.
"Our city is proud of its designation as a Certified Local Government," Social Circle Mayor Hal Dally said. "We all want to return to a vibrant downtown with quality of life enhancements. We have the plans and now we have another tool with CLG status to complete those plans and again become a hub of activity and commerce."
The city of Social Circle was incorporated in 1832 at the junction of two Creek Indian footpaths located near present-day Cherokee Road and Hightower Trail.
Though largely agricultural before the Civil War, a post-war textile mill boom allowed Social Circle to develop into a bustling commercial center. Dozens of industrial, commercial and residential buildings were constructed during this boom.
More than 50 buildings were listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Social Circle Historic District in 1980.
The city of Porterdale passed a local historic preservation ordinance in 2002 and has an appointed citizen board serving as its historic preservation commission.
"The CLG designation recognizes the formal commitment the mayor and council have made to protect the town's rich heritage as well as allowing us to apply for funds from grant sources unavailable to communities without the designation," City Manager Robert Thomson said. "Along with assistance from HPD, it will help us stop the continuing degradation of the historic and cultural fabric of the only fully intact cotton mill village in Georgia."
Located along the Yellow River, the city of Porterdale began as a small village that developed with the burgeoning mill industry. It was later incorporated in 1917. The Porterdale Historic District includes the Porterdale Mill (1899), the Osprey Mill (1916), and the Welaunee Mill (1920), as well as residential, commercial, and civic buildings that accommodated the growing workforce.
The city of Porterdale is currently involved in several preservation projects, including the rehabilitation of the Colonial Revival-style Porter Memorial Gymnasium. Built in 1938, the historic gymnasium was designed by noted Macon architect Ellamae Ellis League and served as a community space until burning in 2005. The city recently broke ground on rehabilitating the gymnasium.
Thomson credits community interest for the project's success, stating, "Porterdale's sustaining strength is the passionate intensity of its citizens, current and former."
The CLG program extends federal and state preservation programs to the local level, expanding the scope of local responsibilities and opportunities for preservation.
Participation requires the community to create a preservation ordinance that establishes a design review commission. Both cities are now eligible for federal Historic Preservation Fund grants which may be used for a variety of preservation activities including historic resource surveys, National Register of Historic Places nominations, educational activities, marketing purposes, publications, heritage tourism studies and predevelopment plans.
Georgia has the third highest number of CLG-designated communities in the United States.